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Two documentaries from Ukraine will participate in the Sundance Film Festival


The films “Iron Butterflies” and “20 Days in Mariupol” were included in the international competition program of the Sundance Film Festival.


Roman Lyuboy’s film “Iron Butterflies” will compete in the World Cinema Documentary Competition. The filmmaker investigates the circumstances surrounding the downing of MH17, the rhetoric of Russian propagandists surrounding this event, and the world community’s response to this crime.

The film was worked on by the Babylon’13 film association in co-production with TrimaFilm (Germany) and RBB/ARTE (Germany). The producers of the film are Andriy Kotlyar, Volodymyr Tykhi, David Lehmer, Isabel Bertolon, and Trini Goetze.

The film focuses on the tragedy at the beginning of the war in Donbas, when on July 17, 2014, the Russian military, operating the Buk anti-aircraft missile system, shot down the Malaysian Boeing flight MH1 in the sky over the Ukrainian Donbas. There were 283 passengers and 15 members on board. The investigation, in this case, lasted for 8 years and on November 17, 2022, the court in The Hague officially ruled that MH17 was shot down by the Buk air defense system from the territory of occupied Pervomaisky by the Russian military. On the same day, Russian citizens Igor Girkin, Serhiy Dubinsky, and Ukrainian citizen (collaborator) Leonid Kharchenko were found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment and compensation to the families of the victims.

“Iron Butterflies”

“This film is dedicated to the passengers and crew of flight MH17 and all the victims of Russian aggression against Ukraine. This is our reaction to the unpunished murder of 298 citizens of different countries and continents, which was committed in our home, and we could not help but speak out. This is our answer to murderers and liars from us as citizens of Ukraine and as citizens of the world,” says the author, Roman Lyubiy.

He made two short films based on the materials of the criminal proceedings about these war crimes. “At first, I thought that “Iron Butterflies” would also be a pure dock, and then gradually, the artistic design began to appear in the script, which became an almost equal component. The story about MH17 often lacks words to describe the feelings, but the technique of physical theater helped me to do this in this work when I can express myself through the actors’ movements,” said the film director.

“Director Roman Lyubiy uses a wealth of visual materials and personal testimonies to create this artistic, yet grounded, exploration of a turning point in modern world history. This case of mass murder not only destroyed people’s lives and the future they could build but also contained the seeds of the future we now live in,” writes the Sundance Film Festival team about the film.

“Iron Butterflies”

Mstislav Chernov’s film “20 days in Mariupol” is presented in the World Cinema Documentary Competition. The producer of the film is the American television network PBS. According to the film’s announcement on the PBS website, the work of Chernov became part of a joint project of PBS Frontline and the Associated Press, which investigates the topic of victims of Russian aggression in Ukraine.

“’20 Days in Mariupol’ is an unusual, unique look at the Russian attack on the Ukrainian city of Mariupol through the lens of AP video journalist Mstislav Chernov,” PBS representatives note. Frontline is the longest-running investigative television documentary series in the United States.

20 days in Mariupol

Mstislav Chernov is a photographer, and military correspondent. Covered the Revolution of Dignity, the war in the east of Ukraine, the war in Syria, the battle in Iraq. With his colleague Yevhen Maloletka, he received a number of awards for his photos from Mariupol. Among them are the Deutsche Welle Freedom of Speech Award, Georgy Gongadze Award, Knight International Journalism Awards, Biagio Agnes Award, Bayeux Calvados-Normandy Award, Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award, Free Media Awards, and others.