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CANNES 2022 Un Certain Regard

Review: Butterfly Vision

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- CANNES 2022: Maksym Nakonechnyi’s feature debut tells of a female military aerial reconnaissance officer released from captivity, during which time she was raped by Russian soldiers

Review: Butterfly Vision
Rita Burkovska in Butterfly Vision

The world premiere of Butterfly Vision [+see also:
trailer
interview: Maksym Nakonechnyi
film profile
]
by Ukrainian director Maksym Nakonechnyi has been hosted by the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival. This feature debut tells the story of a military aerial reconnaissance officer called Lilia, who has been released from captivity. During her incarceration, she was raped by the Russian military. When Lilia returns home, her husband Tokha and her mother are waiting for her. The news that his wife is expecting a child shocks Tokha, and he, being a war veteran, joins the radical right-wing movement and participates in the destruction of a Roma settlement. But the court releases him from custody on account of his wife's pregnancy. A pro-Russian blogger finds out about Lilia's pregnancy and posts a video on YouTube, in which he says that “punishment was exacted by Russian soldiers”. Tokha is unable to withstand this pressure.

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Here, the personal is intertwined with the social, the private with the political, and war creeps into every little space and destroys lives. Lilia, whose call sign during the war was “Butterfly”, cannot sleep, and her dreams are pixelated: these visions feature a shaggy, giant butterfly that flaps its wings and rises into the air. The heroine’s flashbacks take her back to the moments of torture, but the faces of the criminals remain hidden.

Nakonechnyi is a young Ukrainian director, producer and actor, who has about five short films to his credit. In 2020, as a producer, he received an award for This Rain Will Never Stop [+see also:
film review
interview: Alina Gorlova
film profile
]
by Alina Gorlova at the Festival dei Popoli in Florence. He shot a series of works for the omnibus film The Second Front. Stories of LGBT Soldiers, in which he told the tales of Ukrainian homosexuals, lesbians and trans people who went to war. Both as a director and as a producer, Nakonechnyi is often a proponent of liberal ideas in his films, standing up for oppressed communities, such as the Roma. In his new movie, he touches on the topic of the radical right-wing movement in Ukraine, which, before the war, destroyed art exhibitions, broke up liberal demonstrations and so on. The film gives an impression of the state of society in modern Ukraine, which at that time was being torn apart by a hybrid war.

Butterfly Vision also turns out to be especially poignant because of all the war crimes that have recently taken place and are taking place as we speak in Bucha, Irpen and Mariupol.

Nakonechnyi wrote the script for the film with director Iryna Tsilyk (The Earth Is Blue as an Orange [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Iryna Tsilyk
film profile
]
), who contributed her feminine perspective to the plot. The helmer says that the story was imbued with a female gaze with the help of his co-screenwriter. The role of Lilia is played by Rita Burkovska, who subtly conveys the state of a resilient, unbreakable woman who has been through countless trials and tribulations. In terms of its impact on the audience, this is a movie that could be compared to the Romanian New Wave or the works of Amat Escalante.

Butterfly Vision was produced by Kyiv-based production company Tabor, of which Nakonechnyi is a co-founder, in co-production with Croatia’s 4 Film, the Czech Republic’s Masterfilm and Sweden’s Sisyfos. Wild Bunch International oversees the world sales.

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