Rise And Shine Board Sales On Ukrainian Sundance Doc ‘Iron Butterflies’

EXCLUSIVE: Berlin-based documentary sales specialist Rise and Shine has boarded Ukrainian director Roman Liubyi’s work Iron Butterflies ahead of its debut in Sundance (Jan 19-29).

The documentary probes the ramifications of the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, which killed 289 civilian passengers and crew.

The tragedy took place just months into the War of Donbas in eastern Ukraine which began in March of that year pro-Russian separatist groups seized control of government buildings in the region, sparking an armed conflict with Ukrainian government forces.

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After a lengthy investigation, a Dutch court ruled in November 2022 that a Russian-supplied missile fired by pro-Russia Ukrainian separatists had brought the airliner down. The documentary takes its title from the butterfly-shaped shrapnel found in the bodies of the pilots and around the crash site.

The Russian government and the country’s state-controlled media have always challenged suggestions that Russia was implicated in the incident.

Using a wealth of visual material and individual testimonies Liubyi’s work probes their web of lies and examines how the downing of MH17 set the scene for the current geopolitical crisis sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Iron Butterflies is multi-disciplinary artist Liubyi’s second documentary feature after War Note, capturing life at the Donbas front for Ukrainian soldiers in 2014 via personal videos shot on their smartphones, cameras and GoPros.

Liubyi is a member of Ukraine’s Babylon’13 cinema of civil society collective which was created in the wake of the 2013 Euromaiden protests in which Ukrainians rose up against Russia’s attempt to stop the country from signing an association agreement with the European Union.

Babylon’13, which has produced some 400 short and feature-length films documenting life in Ukraine and the ongoing struggle to preserve a civil society, takes producer credits on the documentary.

Iron Butterflies is among 12 feature works due to be showcased in Sundance’s World Cinema Documentary line-up.

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