Butterflies, director Tolga Karacelik's Sundance Grand Jury Award winner for Dramatic World Cinema, is the story of three siblings reunited after a call from their estranged father Mazhar. The one hour 57-minute drama-comedy was shot in 18 days in two different cities and two different countries with an all Turkish cast and crew. Karacelik also wrote the film's screenplay.
Butterflies introduces the audience to three siblings who are strangers to each other. Elder brother Cemal is a Turkish astronaut who is protesting the German Government’s budget cuts which threaten its space program. Struggling actor Kenan works as a voice-over talent, and mentally unstable teacher Suzan is coping with the breakdown of her marriage while trying to leave her husband. Unexpectedly Cemal receives a phone call from their father Mazhar asking them to return to their hometown, the small Aegean village of Hasanlar. After meeting in Istanbul, the three siblings take a long, nostalgic drive through rural Turkey. Along the way, they begin to find out more about their father and themselves.
The title of the film is a reference to the fairytale their mother used to read as a bedtime story. After their mother died, they were sent away to be raised by relatives and none of them has seen dad in 30 years. The film never really reveals why the siblings also became strangers to each other (struggling actor Kenan's girlfriend of five years apparently did not even realize he had a brother and a sister.)
A native of Istanbul, filmmaker Tolga Karacelik is known for his unique style. After receiving a law degree in Turkey, he studied film in New York City. He worked as director of photography and wrote and directed music videos. In addition to writing and directing five short films, he has also shot three feature films beginning with Toll Booth in 2010. His second film, Ivy premiered at Sundance in 2015 and his third feature is this year’s Turkish entry Butterflies.