Float Like a Butterfly is a powerful and timely story of a girl’s fight for freedom and belonging. Some people say it doesn’t matter whether you win or lose. But for Frances losing is not an option – at stake is her own freedom, her mother’s honour and her father’s faith.
In this podcast, Paul Farren talks to Carmel Winters about her film and the art and craft of filmmaking.
Float Like A Butterfly is opening in the following sites from today:
IMC Dun Laoghaire
Movies @ Dundrum
The Park Clonakilty
W Cinema Westport
And QFT confirmed for 17 May – the film will be touring the country afterwards
Loretta Goff finds a voice to the voiceless in Carmel Winters’ film Float Like a Butterfly, which opened the 63rd Cork Film Festival.
The second feature-film of writer-director Carmel Winters, Float Like a Butterfly was the Opening Gala of the 63rd Cork Film Festival and screened again the following day, with packed out audiences at both showings. Introducing the second screening of the film, the Festival’s Programme Director, Michael Hayden, described it as “highly intelligent” and “full of humanity”. This proved to be true as audiences connected with the story unfolding onscreen over the next hour and forty minutes, laughing, gasping, clapping and crying along the way.
Float Like a Butterfly, set in rural Ireland in the 1960s,follows the story of Frances (Hazel Doupe), a fifteen-year-old Irish Traveller, as she comes of age amidst turmoil and fights back against societal expectations. The film opens with a young Frances sharing a happy moment with her family—boxing with her father and listening to her mother sing. This is quickly shattered with the arrival of Guards demanding that Frances be brought to school. Trying to take the child leads to an altercation that results in the tragic death of Frances’ mother, who is pushed by a Guard, and the arrest of her father, who fights back.
Several years later, we see Frances carrying on her father’s fighting spirit while channelling her hero, Muhammad Ali. She stands strong against the discrimination and vitriol she and her family face, reminding herself that they are “the greatest” (like Ali), and resists prescribed gender roles, focusing on boxing rather than the marriage she is continuously pushed towards. However, when her father, Michael (Dara Devaney) returns from prison as a broken man struggling with alcoholism, Frances’ strength is put to the test as she tries to hold her family together.
Tensions boil over when Michael takes Frances and her younger brother on the road. As the trio begin their journey, they come to a split in the path and, after pausing for a moment, Michael comments that “there’s no wrong way” and allows the horse to choose their direction. This neatly reflects the overall position of the film—that it is OK to follow your own path—and acknowledges the many directions one’s life might take. However, Michael does not seem to follow his own philosophy for most of the film, undermining his daughter’s passion for boxing and her more “masculine” strengths, while scolding his young son for being too “soft”.
The acting in this film is strong across the board, but Hazel Doupe stands out, expressing great emotional depth and variety throughout the film. Several shots focus on Doupe’s face, allowing it to guide the audience through both her character’s experiences and their own emotional responses to the film. Through Doupe’s subtle and nuanced performance, Frances becomes both a strong, determined individual and representative of humanity (and our fears, struggles, hopes and successes) more broadly. The audience connects with her, feels her pain and roots for her. In the Q&A following the film, Winters explained that the “character of Frances drove this… she had a story to tell and she didn’t let me go until I told it.”
Locating this film in the past gives it a mythological quality that softens and romanticises some of the tough issues the film addresses, but these remain affecting and the audience can easily relate to them. In the Q&A, Winters stated: “What I really want is everyone to open their hearts” and expressed that she hoped the film allows audiences to connect with their pain, but also find beauty. She explained: “That’s where I come from as an artist … how can I serve, whatever that might be … I want to give a voice to the voiceless.”
Float Like a Butterfly is a standout film that tells a unique story while simultaneously tackling a myriad of topical social issues relevant not only in Ireland, but across the world. It captures humanity at its best and worst, offering a message of hope throughout.
Float Like a Butterfly screened on Friday. 9th & Saturday, 10th November 2018 as part of the Cork Film Festival
The 63rd Cork Film Festival has announced that this year’s Opening Night Gala will be the award-winning Irish film, Float like a Butterfly. The European premiere, to be attended by the film’s writer and director Carmel Winters, takes place on 9 November at The Everyman.
Float Like a Butterfly is an inspirational coming-of-age story of an Irish girl from the Travelling community and the pursuit of her dream to be a boxer. It won the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) prize for the Discovery programme at the Toronto International Film Festival last month.
This year’s Closing Night Gala is the Irish premiere of Nadine Labaki’s multi-award-winning film Capernaum, also at The Everyman on 18 November.
Capernaum, which took the Jury Prize at Cannes Film Festival, and Audience Awards at further international festivals, is set in Beirut and tells the courageous story of a 12-year-old boy who sues his parents for bringing him into a world of poverty.
Tickets for both films are now on sale at www.corkfilmfest.org. The much-anticipated full 10-day programme for Ireland’s largest film festival, which will showcase the very best in new cinema, will be announced on Tuesday, 16 October.
Festival Producer and CEO Fiona Clark said: “We are thrilled to be premiering these two significant films, directed by two outstanding female directors, in Cork. Their stories reflect and resonate with the times we live in – life on the margins of society seen through the eyes of a child; the reality of personal and social struggles; and the human need to achieve a sense of belonging. We are honoured to share these films with our audience at the 63rd Cork Film Festival.”
Speaking on the Opening Gala for the 63rd Cork Film Festival, Cork director Carmel Winters said: “I love the worlds that met in the making of this film. I am so proud that these worlds will come together again to celebrate our European premiere in Cork. I couldn’t wish for a better home-coming for Float Like A Butterfly.”
Cork Film Festival Programme Director Michael Hayden added: “We want Cork Film Festival to be a place of discovery and provide a platform for films that challenge perceptions and provoke debate. We are delighted to be able to celebrate these two outstanding new films as our Opening and Closing Galas. We look forward to sharing the full programme of Irish and international films at the launch on 16 October and to welcoming Festival goers to explore and discover 10 days of the best world cinema in November.”
Further announcements in the 2018 programme include the Festival’s Industry Days, on 15-17 November, comprising of First Take which explores all aspects of the Irish filmmaking landscape; Doc Day, Ireland’s premier Documentary Industry Day presented in partnership with Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland; along with a new event for emerging filmmakers. Cork Film Festival extends its successful partnership with the IFI Education Department to present a comprehensive Schools Programme in The Gate Cinemas in Cork City, Midleton and Mallow. Eight specially selected titles will be presented in support of Junior and Senior Cycle Second Level curricula.