Luxembourg City Film Festival: I Am Femen leaves audience craving for more – Luxemburger Wort

Published on Tuesday, 3 March, 2015 at 14:27

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As part of LuxFilmFest's 'Outside the Walls' programme, a documentary about the Ukrainian militant feminist group Femen, most known for their bare-breasted demonstrations, was screened on Monday at Neimënster in the presence of director Alain Margot and lead character Oksana Shachko.

In making 'I Am Femen', Margot followed the activist group from early 2011 until late 2013, shooting closeup footage of their infamous topless actions.

"With Femen you always have to be very inconspicuous, because gradually the police will start to recognise you," he told

"It's very important to always hide your camera and when the action starts, 'attack' and then run to avoid be captured on police footage."

Filming in pre-revolution Ukraine under pro-Russia president Yanukovych's rule for Margot also meant always being ready for identity controls at any hour. However, he found a way to use the deficiencies of the country in his favour. "There was a lot of corruption, so if I had an identity control, I could give the policemen some money and then they went away."

The documentary exhibits several visually strong strips of footage of various Femen actions. Besides showing their absolute dedication to their work, these also gives a comprehensive picture of the astonishingly wide scope of issues the activists takes on.

From the mishandling of animals at a Ukrainian zoo, via prostitution during international football tournaments and the Islamist oppression of the female sex, to rigged elections in Russia, Femen is there, as close as physically possible, highlighting the issues using naked bodies as their weapon of choice.

Oksana in the spotlight

Oksana Shachko of Femen

Parallel to this, the documentary's focal point Oksana Shachko is followed outside the main action. Although definitely being one of the most hardcore activists when things get hot, she otherwise seem quiet and timid, often silently listening when others discuss future actions.

This delusive appearance of shyness is however shattered as she speaks her mind, and it becomes clear that her actions are rooted in a steadfast ideological conviction.

Besides, or rather together with feminisim, Oksana's main passion is creating artworks, ranging from cardboard scary animal masks for Femen demos to painting the most exquisite religious icons.

Although she was just one of the original founders, and even though the group over the years has grown to incorporate hundreds of members in different international branches, the documentary's strong focus on Oksana may mislead the uninformed viewer to believe Femen is a one-woman show with the talented painter being its official leader.

LuxFilmFest's Alexis Juncosa, Femen's Oksana Shachko, and I Am Femen Director Alain Margot answering the crowd's questions after the screening.

This angling was a conscious choice of producer Margot. Initially he had over five hours of material with equally comprehensive pictures of other persons at Femen's core. When narrowing it down to just above 90 minutes, he however chose to make Oksana's viewpoint that of the documentary.

"It's difficult to take in the personalities of several girls at the same time. Oksana is good, because you understand her by following her," he told "Femen is not only one girl, but Oksana explains the actions and the life, and I think it's important for the audience to enter from the viewpoint of one person."

Although the arguing is reasonable, some viewers will still be curious to get closer to the other Femen founders. They can however keep their hopes up for extra material on the DVD release of I Am Femen scheduled for April 23.  

By Daniel Isaksson

An exclusive interview with Oksana Shachko will be published on International Women's Day, March 8.

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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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