Iron Butterflies (2023) Sundance Film Festival 2023

January 23rd, 2023
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Roman Liubyi | Doc with Bridget Fiske, Sofiya Gakh, Anton Ovhcinnikov, Joseph Lau | 84′

In his documentary debut, Director Roman Liubyi plunders the archives for clips and real life interviews that present a convincing expose of an act of genocide that changed the course of recent history for all of us. The film bears testament to the recent corrosive trend for questioning incontrovertible truths.

A case in point is the focus of Iron Butterflies. On July 17, 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down by Russian forces over eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board. The reality of this attack, and its possible ramifications for the then-ongoing war in Donbas and the West’s relationship with Russia, was immediately questioned by the Russian government and media which chose to spin the evidence and change the goal posts, presenting a different ‘truth’ – also known as ‘lies’ – to the one the rest of the world had accepted.

Gradually, the film pieces together ample evidence of what really happened – the title referring to butterfly-shaped items of shrapnel that were found in the bodies of the pilots. As the evidence gradually piles up Liubyi shows that denying what really happened eventually becomes more outlandish and incredible.

In a world where violence can only be defended by lies, and lies only maintained by violence, Iron Butterflies presents the truth of what happened to MH17, but also what was at stake by not confronting it.


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