Hot Docs 2023: Our Review of ‘Iron Butterflies’

Posted in Hot Docs 2023 by - May 02, 2023
Hot Docs 2023: Our Review of ‘Iron Butterflies’

Roman Liubyi’s Iron Butterflies depicts the events and the aftermath of the MH17 crash. But despite its good intentions, it starts off with the wrong foot. It shows footage of the ethnic Russians in the contested province of Donetsk cheering that the plane went down, doing so under the impression that Russian troops hit a Ukrainian plane. It then switches to an audio recording of two Russian soldiers realizing that they inadvertently hit MH17 and how they have to cover their tracks after that massive blunder. The footage it shows is problematic even if it tries to justify why Russians in Donetsk reacted the way they did. There’s something distasteful about watching people jump for joy after seeing someone else’s tragedy. Even if those people are under Russia’s powerful brainwashing, there is no use for such information, or at least, not how this documentary presents these people.

Just to clarify, I have nothing against the people living within either the Ukrainian and Russian borders. I am, in general, against the regime that’s currently oppressing regular Russians and the people beyond that country’s borders. The personal take of the people who made Iron Butterflies is understandable but it’s equally an immature one to have. That impression stays despite its attempts to add the human element to the tragedy. Showing one of the victims’ uncles play a song he wrote for his niece is effective enough. Its other methods, if not overtly biased, feel dry. The documentary’s middle section show both NATO and Russia’s different version of the events. Of course, the Russian side keeps changing its story making it less trustworthy. Both sides still kinda bored me though. Lastly, the documentary peppers some scenes people doing interpretive dance, which is the least appropriate thing to see here.

  • Release Date: 4/29/2023
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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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