Iron Butterflies

Roman Liubyi

Remarkable, impressionistic deep dive into the many facets comprising the downing of flight MH17. Creatively constructed, using everything from historical footage to time-lapsed satellite images, and from Russian state TV to dance performances. A fascinating experience, inviting the viewers to form their own picture of the tragedy. 
Years before the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, the Russia-Ukrainian war took the lives of 298 citizens from all over the world. On 17 July 2014, passenger flight MH17 was downed by a Russian BUK missile while flying over eastern Ukraine. Roman Liubyi’s Iron Butterflies – drawing its title from the shape of shrapnel that was found – looks at the tragedy from a wealth of angles and styles.  
We see a Soviet BUK instruction video from the height of the Cold War. We see scenes from the MH17 criminal trial in The Hague. We go from private videos of people living nearby the crash site to re-enactments and dance performances. From stop motions clips of forensic analysis to a deluge of Russian state TV propaganda, which even consults a psychic. The result is a breathtaking, highly original and gripping perspective on this enormous tragedy. 


Roman Liubyi
Andrii Kotliar, David Armati Lechner
Country of production
Ukraine, Germany
84 minutes
Spoken language
Dutch, English, Russian, Ukrainian
Production company
Babylon 13
World Sales
Rise and Shine