June 25, 2022

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In Cannes, the provocation of seeing a butterfly (2020 snapshot)

One nation, different war, same horrors. see butterfly, the Ukrainian film in the “Special Interest” section of the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, speaks clearly, even if it uses few words. Directed by Maxim Nakonichny, which made her feature film debut, tells of Lilia, a 29-year-old soldier who is kidnapped for two months and raped. A married young woman finds herself pregnant with her executioner, and once released, she faces not only battlefield trauma but an abortion dilemma.

This is not the current armed conflict with Russia, but the civil battle on the border with the former Soviet Union that took place in 2014 and was dubbed the Donbass War. In Croisette, the director shares this first behind-the-camera experience of a fictional project (albeit dangerously close to current events) while in Kyiv he continues to shoot in areas of armed conflict to document what is happening to the Ukraine in which he lives.

Filmed in 2020, the project is basic, rigorous and dialogue-free, funded in half by local audiovisual funds and ready to highlight a torn but not forgotten corner of the world. The director tells it in an office near the port of Cannes, but it seems that the beauty and splendor of the view can hardly touch him, as if the most serious thoughts were taking him back to Kyiv.

Who is the woman the movie is about?
A traumatized soldier but at the same time able to make decisions on her own, no matter how unexpected and unpopular they may be.

Did you encounter any risks or problems while shooting?

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In fact, Russian troops were already looming over the Ukrainian border and we were advised not to shoot nearby, but at least the opening scene, the hero’s shooting scene, we had to shoot in the Donbass to lend credibility to the story.

How much pressure do you feel when presenting this story to the festival?

More than pressure, I would say I see participation as an honor to represent the country. I know soldiers do a lot more than that, but this show lets you talk about what’s happening in Ukraine and I think it’s the artist’s duty.

Did being in Cannes cause a stir at home?

Not like the Eurovision Song Contest, I’m afraid, but our President’s speech on the opening night of the Cannes Film Festival clearly shows that we are here not only in the name of the film but for the entire nation.

What difference do you notice between the 2014 conflict and the current conflict?

Our military today is ready and women can aspire to higher ranks in the military, albeit voluntary, whereas female conscripts were then officially conscripted to perform other tasks, such as cooks or seamstresses, even if they were in fact dressed. Their guns are just like their mates.

Are you planning to document the current war?

I am already doing this: I want to show and document the fallout from the conflict for the war archives and plan to collaborate with the military as a director to better serve this purpose.

Do you think that in the near future Ukrainian cinema will convey only political messages?

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Making bread has a more immediate consequence than making a movie, but cinema’s efforts help strengthen Ukrainian identity. However, I hope that the next feature film to which I will dedicate myself will be a comedy, something entirely invented, in short, pure escape. We need that too, right?


Last update: Monday, May 23, 2022 at 19:13

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