Butterfly dance - death on the way to freedom

It is even surprising how the director managed to show the whole fate of the poetess in a short film.

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© Butterfly dance 2021 directed by Mariia Felenko

Short film Butterfly dance 2021, directed by Mariia Felenko, is a biography of Olena Teliha who was the famous poetess and chairman of the Writers’ Union of Ukraine. In 1922 the Bolshevik regime forced her family to leave Ukraine, leaving her beloved Kyiv and her first love for a long time.

She lived in Prague that was the center of life of Ukrainian emigration. What is interesting that Olena was raised in the russian language and she was shocked that Ukrainian was spoken in exile. She met a Cuban Cossack and bandura player Mykhailo, who spoke Ukrainian. Lena fell in love with him. He set out to teach Lena to be the Ukrainian.


© Malvina Salijchuk in Butterfly dance 2021

Terrible news was coming from Ukraine, the Holodomor mowed millions of people. It seemed the only force that could break the Bolshevik regime was Germany. Olena became a member of Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN). She moved to Ukraine. In Kyiv, she was engaged in literary activities and headed the Union of Writers.

The name of the film is symbolic: Olena, like a butterfly, flew into the light of freedom and died. The Nazis did not need a free Ukraine, and the expectations of the OUN were only a dream. Olena Teliha was shot in Babyn Yar with 621 OUN members.

But the most tragic fate of Olena’s husband: he loved her, but she loved Ukraine, and sometimes other men. He was not a member of the Writers’ Union and could have avoided such fate, but the femme fatale Olena ruined him, as his friend from Krakow had predicted.

The film is definitely interesting. It is even surprising how the director managed to show the whole fate of the poetess in a short film. Beautiful poems, costumes and atmosphere of that era. I wish there were more verses. I would like to see a full-length film with poetry readings.

And I look at the photos of Olena Teliha and she does not look like the actress (Malvina Salijchuk) playing her role. She plays well though.


© Butterfly dance 2021, Olena Teliha