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“We Were Forbidden to Film in the Archive” | Roman Liubyi, Iron Butterflies

A child's hands are shot in a black and white photograph.Iron Butterflies,courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Every production faces unexpected obstructions that require creative solutions and conceptual rethinking. What was an unforeseen obstacle, crisis, or simply unpredictable event you had to respond to, and how did this event impact or cause you to rethink your film?

COVID, and, after that, the expansion of Russian aggression against Ukraine, were pretty strong obstacles. It is a paradox, but we have never felt broken. I remember an expression that art is the material of resistance. This whole project is a search for creative solutions and remaining possibilities against these obstacles. An example is the scene that we shot in the film archive in Kyiv, for a sequence where you can see old Soviet films about the BUK installation, by which plane MH17 was shot down. It was the first week of the lockdown in Ukraine, and we were forbidden to film in the archive. Andrii Kotliar, our producer, discussed with the officials to allow us to enter. In the end, he told me he was sorry, but the only option was to put on full body protection suits for the entire film crew and archive staff. And to me, that was a brilliant solution to that scene that I had been looking for—something that matched the sense of danger that comes from the film reels and the instructional videos about weapons. That’s just one example of how this film was enhanced rather than hindered by obstacles. That’s how I see the creative process in general.

See all responses to our annual Sundance Question here.
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