KGB bust, topless protests and now, finally, a splash in Venice big pond

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How do you top the experience of getting arrested by Belarusian KGB agents while shooting your first feature film? Independent Melbourne filmmaker Kitty Green isn't quite sure, but she's certain she'll try.

Having her documentary, on topless Ukrainian feminist protesters Femen, premiere at the Venice Film Festival in a few weeks is a good start.

Lord knows what trouble she'll get into when she travels to the Middle East later this year to make her next film, on the repression of women there.

Kitty Green, independant Melbourne filmmaker.

In camera: Kitty Green had all but given hope, then found her documentary would be shown in Venice. Photo: Simon O'Dwyer

Green, 28, of Northcote, has spent the better part of the past four years travelling back and forth to Ukraine, where her mother and grandmother were born, filming and editing her first feature-length film, Ukraine is Not a Brothel, for less than $50,000. Her documentary follows the evolution of Femen, a band of young Ukrainian women who strip to their waists, initially to draw attention to sex slavery in their country.

They have since attracted global attention, been arrested hundreds of times and garnered thousands of headlines. Their protests have disrupted events such as the Euro 2012 soccer championship, caught the eye of Russian president Vladimir Putin and seen them storm ex-model Heidi Klum's German reality TV show.

Green was held by KGB agents in Minsk while filming a Femen protest in early 2012, and was also arrested in Vatican City while filming the documentary, which she shot largely with just a digital SLR camera. (She had help from a cinematographer, Mark Latham, who filmed with her for four months and is credited as a producer, along with Jonathan auf der Heide.)

The VCA graduate and former ABC employee has spent the past year back in Melbourne editing her film, working part-time to fund the post-production process.

Since meeting one of the Venice selectors in Sydney three months ago, Green had ''pretty much given up hope'' that her film would be selected.

A few days ago she was shocked to discover it would screen at the festival as part of the official selection but out of competition.

''Everyone wants an A-list premiere and after Cannes, Venice is one of the most prestigious festivals you can screen in,'' Green said.

''Docos are often overlooked in festivals like that, but I think they saw something in my film and responded to it and it found a little place within the festival, which is incredible.

''My bizarre Ukrainian film found a home.''

The experience of filming on her own with such a small camera over months allowed her to build up trust with her subjects, giving her the kind of intimate access a film crew or even male filmmakers would not be afforded, she said.

Green's DIY-aesthetic has shown her that anybody can make a film.

''You can make something look like it has a big budget behind it with such simple equipment. I don't see why everybody isn't out there making things like this. ''If my film shows people anything it's that it is achievable with barely anything; no money, just a camera and a set of radio mikes, that's all I had.

''As [director] Jane Campion says, 'Women, make your movies.' I can, and I did.''

This year's Venice selection has the strongest Australian representation at the festival in almost two decades. Amiel Courtin-Wilson and Michael Cody are returning to Venice with Ruin after their film Hail was screened there in 2011. Also selected for a world premiere in Venice is John Curran's Tracks, the long-awaited adaptation of Robyn Davidson's book about her epic camel trek across the outback in the 1970s. Greg McLean's Wolf Creek 2 is in the Midnight Program.


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Ukraine Is Not A Brothel

Footage shot by Australian filmmaker Kitty Green of a Femen protest in Turkey. Green's documentary Ukraine Is Not A Brothel has been selected to screen at the prestigious 2013 Venice Film Festival in August. Warning: Video contains images of nudity.

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The mission of the "FEMEN" movement is to create the most favourable conditions for the young women to join up into a social group with the general idea of the mutual support and social responsibility, helping to reveal the talents of each member of the movement.

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