Iron Butterflies

On 17 July 2014, a passenger jet en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed over eastern Ukraine. All 298 people on board this Malaysian Boeing flight MH17 were killed. As the search for the causes begins, the world is still largely in the dark regarding the background. Was it a military operation? If so, whose? And anyway, which sides were fighting in the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic” and what did the Dutch and Malaysian victims have to do with it? As we now know – and as this sober yet poetic essay film impressively documents – the long uncertainty about the fact that the plane was shot down by a Russian BUK missile was the result of a calculated and far-reaching Russian disinformation campaign.
Step by step, Roman Liyubyi’s collage of archive material, news and social media clips as well as dramatised and animated elements lays bare the strategies behind this hybrid warfare, and exposes the mechanisms that were used to create a dense smokescreen around the true political and military situation. A painful lesson in revelation that also helps us to better understand the present.
by Roman Liubyi
with Danylo Shramenko, Ivan Zavertalyuk, Anton Ovchinnikov, Sofiya Gakh, Olha Kebas, Anastasiia Anykevych, Bridget Fiske, Joseph Lau, Dmytro Sherembey, Robert Oehlers
Ukraine / Germany 2023 Ukrainian, Russian, English, Dutch 84’ Colour & Black/White European premiere | Documentary Form


  • Danylo Shramenko
  • Ivan Zavertalyuk
  • Anton Ovchinnikov
  • Sofiya Gakh
  • Olha Kebas
  • Anastasiia Anykevych
  • Bridget Fiske
  • Joseph Lau
  • Dmytro Sherembey
  • Robert Oehlers


Director Roman Liubyi
Screenplay Roman Liubyi, Mila Zhluktenko
Cinematography Andrii Kotliar
Editing Roman Liubyi, Mila Zhluktenko
Music Anton Baibakov, Oleksandra Morozova
Sound Design Andrii Rohachov
Production Design Volodymyr Liubyi
Costumes Liza Yarynovskaya, Tеtiana Lavrynenko
Assistant Director Kateryna Stebnovska
Producers Andrii Kotliar, Volodymyr Tykhyy, David Armati Lechner, Isabelle Bertolone, Trini Götze
Executive Producer Anna Zobnina

Roman Liubyi

The Ukrainian director, editor and animator works in moving images, theatre and music. Since 2013, he has been a member of the Babylon’13: cinema of civil society film collective. He has worked on several short documentaries for the collective and for broadcasters including CNN and Al Jazeera. His first feature-length documentary War Note is a surreal journey to the front of Russia’s war against Ukraine and was edited from found footage shot by Ukrainian soldiers in 2014.


2013 Pigs; short film 2020 War Note; documentary 2023 Iron Butterflies; documentary

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2023