From Russia For Love
High Five




High Five is a story of international adoption unlike any other. Cathy and Martin Ward travel to the remote village of Gorodnya in rural Ukraine to try and adopt five biological brothers and sisters – ages 6 through 17. Unfortunately, at first, the Wards are only able to adopt two sisters, Alyona and Snezhana.

Almost a year later the adoption of three remaining children is still not completed. Cathy and Martin refuse to leave the other children in the orphanage for long, and they bring Sasha, Yulia and Sergey to Canada for a three-month-long summer-stay. It is a period of both tenderness and tension, conflict and discovery. Only then the adoptive parents find out about the abuse by the kids’ birth father, his violence toward his children and his wife. Cathy and Martin have to accept that memories, losses, and wounds deeply affect any orphan but especially an older one.

Two years later, everything is set for the Wards to return to Ukraine to go through the court system and finalize the adoption of Yuliya, Sergey, and Sasha.

The camera stays with the family, capturing the emotional journey and the adjustment of the non-English speaking teenagers in school, in the society and with the adoptive parents. Yuliya terribly misses her youngest sister Tania, who was adopted many years ago by a Ukrainian woman. While her brother Sergey finds new friends and new interests in Canada, Yuliya is lonely and moody. Her middle sisters and the youngest brother effortlessly adjust to the new parents, forgetting that back in the orphanage Yuliya was their protector, caregiver and on a bigger scale, their loving mother. It’s painful for Yuliya to accept that her role has been taken over by Cathy.

It’s been six years since Martin and Cathy started this unprecedented adoption journey. For now, they see the failure with Yuliya as a painful exception in their experience of parenthood, which will not be repeated by any other of their children. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that all the loving children who are so close with their parents at the age of twelve, will not forget all the sacrifices their father and mother have made for them.


Double DVD


Institutional Use - College/University
Public Performance Rights

plus $10 shipping


Single DVD (99min)
Institutional Use
NO public presentation

$69.95 plus $10 shipping


Director Julia Ivanova does an excellent job in documenting the very long and complicated journey of the Ward family to the point that the camera actually begins to feel like another member of the clan. She not only documents the truths behind the actual adoption process, but also the very real feelings that arise when strangers are trying to bond with one another and form a strong family unit. Especially fascinating is the journey of the two older children who, by time the adoption is complete, are in their early twenties and struggling to regain some of their own lost childhood while still figuring out how to become an adult in a new country so different from their own. The constant push and pull and well as both the happy and horribly tense moments will be recognizable to everyone who’s ever lived within a family dynamic and it makes for a really intriguing viewing experience. -Kristal Cooper, Toronto Film Scene

With two of the younger siblings arriving well in advance of the others, Ivanova shows that the real drama lies in how family dynamics develop and change when all sibs are together again, living amid the values of a different culture...absorbing and compassionate pic - Alissa Simon VARIETY

High Five: A Suburban Adoption Saga chronicles the Ward’s decision to adopt 5 siblings from a Ukrainian orphanage and the financial and emotional sacrifices required to forge a family in this situation. It’s a tough road, but the Wards travel it with patience, empathy, and a health dose of warmth and humor. Special kudos should go to director Julia Ivanova. It takes a special touch to have a family open up to a camera so completely, but ultimately her camera serves as an extra set of eyes, almost a 6 kid in the mix - Brandy Dean PRETTY CLEVER FILMS





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