Annecy Climate Crisis Movie ‘Black Butterflies’: ‘We Tried to Put a Human Face to This Drama,’ Says Director David Baute

This week, David Baute’s powerful animated film “Black Butterflies” (“Mariposas Negras”) will be showcased at Annecy, competing in the Contrechamp strand alongside Isabel Herguera’s “Sultana’s Dream.” Drawing inspiration from Baute’s live-action project, “Climate Exodus,” the film weaves together personal stories of women from different parts of the world who are forced to leave their homes due to the devastating effects of climate change. Baute, along with scriptwriter Yaiza Berrocal, collaborated with art director María Pulido (“Ámome”) and production designer and animation director José Sanchez Alonso (“Run Ozzy Run”) to carefully craft the narrative and visuals.
According to Baute, we have been following stories of forced emigration worldwide due to climate issues for almost a decade. This research has provided us with numerous possibilities when developing the script. Rather than coming up with entirely new sequences, our goal was to groom the existing material and incorporate additional layers that would allow viewers to truly understand the hardships faced by these women who have lost their homes and are forever displaced.

The delicate 2D animation in the film is influenced by the art of the Caribbean, India, and Turkana County, the regions depicted in the story. The rich textures and dreamy watercolors create an immersive experience for the audience, while the score, curated by Diego Navarro, ranges from ambient and ethereal to ancestral, incorporating acoustic hand-strung guitar chords.
Grammy Award-winning Panamanian musician and activist Rueben Blades contributed an exclusive song to the project, which co-producer Edmon Roch of Ikiru credits with “enhancing the impact of our film.”

The skillful techniques employed in the film effectively depict the individual journeys of the women while also highlighting the shared pain, fear, and underlying trauma that unite them. This suggests that while these tragedies may seem distant, their consequences are far-reaching and closer to home than many realize.

Baute, the film’s director, elaborates on the creative process, stating, “Although the stories have a common narrative thread, it was important to create a distinct atmosphere in each location, allowing our protagonists to have their own identities through the use of color treatments.”
According to the source, the documentary shoots from the past have served as a major source of inspiration for the artistic production of the film. This has resulted in a distinct visual language that sets each story apart and makes them truly unique. The collaboration between the animation and artistic departments, led by Pepe Sánchez and María Pulido respectively, was crucial in ensuring the film had an organic and dynamic feel.
Diego Navarro’s soundtrack was designed to bring unity to each of the stories in the film. While there were subtle musical variations connected to each specific location, the main score served as the cohesive foundation for the film, allowing each character’s journey to be supported and enhanced. The sound design, expertly executed by the Coser y Cantar team, further solidified the soundtrack and added depth to the overall production, particularly important in the realm of animation.

The film follows the lives of Lobuin, Vanesa, and Soma, who are uprooted from their peaceful rural existence and thrust into the chaotic urban landscape. The weight of uncertainty and longing is palpable on screen, from the heart-wrenching separations at the beginning to the simmering anxiety of starting anew. The characters find solace in sharing folk stories, with Soma’s recollection of the tale of Ganesha, the Hindu deity of beginnings, holding particular significance.
The film tackles a crucial and pressing issue – climate change and its disproportionate impact on marginalized communities. It skillfully explores this oft-discussed topic with a fresh approach, using animation and drawing inspiration from the lives of three real women who are transformed into relatable characters. Through their experiences, the film sheds light on the injustice faced by those who suffer the consequences of climate change despite being least responsible for it. In doing so, it avoids the pitfalls of oversaturation and instead leaves audiences enlightened and motivated to take action.
The film successfully shifts the focus from sensationalized headlines to a pressing global concern, sparking a necessary dialogue about the ongoing turmoil that will undoubtedly impact a significant portion of the population.

Baute, the filmmaker, considers himself a documentarian, viewing “Black Butterflies” as a documentary that utilizes 2D animation as a storytelling technique. In his documentaries and in this particular film, he consistently intertwines social and environmental issues. He sees cinema not only as a poetic art form to express our fears and hopes but also as a tool to provoke contemplation on urgent matters that affect us as living beings and necessitate our integration into the natural world.
He emphasized that the issue of the environment and climate change is a topic that is constantly being discussed by experts, politicians, and citizens, which can lead to a sense of fatigue among the population. He believes that this is a dangerous situation because the climate issue should be the main concern as it directly affects our lives. In order to bring more attention to this crisis, they have made an effort to personalize the issue and highlight its connection to migration. Their goal is to spark a deeper discussion about the urgent state of the world’s climate crisis.

“Black Butterflies” is a collaborative project involving Ikiru Films (“Tad, The Lost Explorer”), Tinglado Film (“Ona”), Panama’s Tunche Films (“Ainbo: Spirit Of The Amazon”), Anangu Grup (“Mummies”) and Catalan Corporation of Mitjans Audiovisuals.
The movie was backed by several entities, including Spanish pubcaster RTVE, state TV operator 3Cat in Catalonia, Public Television of the Canary Islands, and Mogambo. It received financial support from Spain’s Ministry of Culture-ICAA, as well as support from ICEC-Department of Culture-Generalitat de Catalunya, the government of the Canary Islands, and the Island Council of Tenerife.