Jan Landau, Cheryl Rattner Price, Ela Weissberger, and Susan Goldman Rubin
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
Cheryl Rattner PRice, Joe Fab
NOT The Last Butterfly is a feature-length documentary co-directed by Cheryl Rattner Price and Joe Fab that tells the story of a unique project known as "The Butterfly Project," described as a "grassroots arts and education initiative that memorializes the 1.5 million children killed in the Holocaust" - the project memorializes the children through the global display of ceramic butterflies - one butterfly painted for each child.
Not surprisingly, NOT The Last Butterfly ascends beyond the actual project by telling the stories of survivors and their dark times including a seldom heard story from Czechoslovakia's Terezin concentration camp involving Ela Weissberger, who was imprisoned as a child and is now a survivor in her 80's. In one of the film's most emotionally resonant scenes, Ela reveals how she and other children were given the strength to endure by an artist and teacher who helped them express their traumatic experiences through art.
The film frequently utilizes child narration, a unique approach given the gravity of the material expressed yet an approach that gives a stunning level of poignancy to the stories that unfold and the archival materials presented.
NOT the Last Butterfly is co-directed by first-time filmmaker Cheryl Rattner Price and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Joe Fab (Paper Clips), a combination that adds both a meaningful novice energy to the film and yet also the finely tuned, disciplined touch of Fab. Together, they have created a film that will make you laugh, cry and appreciate all those involved in this simple yet extraordinary project.
NOT The Last Butterfly is filled to the brim with messages of hope and healing, a film that brings tragedy and light into a woven together tapestry and manages to tell the stories in a way that makes them accessible and meaningful for all ages.
While NOT The Last Butterfly is a film I managed to see by screener as part of my festival coverage, it is most assuredly a film best seen in a movie theater surrounded by others whose emotions will likely meld as one into yours. Indeed, this is a film that should most definitely be a communal experience.
For more information on NOT The Last Butterfly, visit the film's website linked to in the credits.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic