Berlinale 2017 Filmmaker Profile: Rafael Kapelinski (Butterfly Kisses)


In ‘Butterfly Kisses,’ we follow Jake and his two best friends, Kyle and Jarred through a world distorted by sex and porn.

Filmed in high contrast black and white, set to haunting organ music, the film portrays the life of a teenager whose increasing isolation takes on a sinister form under the burden of a secret he cannot tell anyone.

‘Butterfly Kisses’ will screen at Berlinale 2017 on Saturday, Monday, and Thursday 11/13/16 February. Here, we present Rafael Kapelinski’s own introduction to the film.

Find all information & tickets for ‘Butterfly Kisses’ at Berlinale 2017 HERE

What was the first aspect of ‘Butterfly Kisses’ that occurred to you during the production phase? Was it a certain character, theme, scene, or something else entirely?
When I joined the project, an early draft of the draft script was already in place. The two issues that concerned us related to the point of view and the theme of the overall piece. After stumbling along a few dead ends, we decided to add the narrator, who tells the story of Jake, the protagonist. It is a very literary device, but we believed it would allow us to give the story more of a subjective angle, which at the same time is quite objective if it makes any sense. The paradox appealed to us and it turned out to be the right choice. The other issue concerned the theme. Again, after going back and forth, we decided that the film was really about the moment in our early lives, in which darkness invades our personal space and all of a sudden we realise that the world is not only about hearts and flowers. That is usually the moment when we lose our emotional innocence. That is usually the moment when we grow up.

Describe the visual strategy behind the film? How did your approach to the film’s photography develop over its production? Was there ever a moment of significant adjustment from your original vision?
We followed a few simple rules that apply to low-budget filmmaking: 1) extend the perspective as much as possible, but stay close to the subject; 2) the camera should actively tell the story, and 3) use black and white to enhance the feelings of melancholy and loneliness that pervade the film. We stuck to these tenets throughout the film, we never strayed from them. Each time we did try to do so, the results were disappointing.

With the film hitting Berlinale, describe how you plan to further expand its accessibility to wide audiences?
Ours is a film that tackles a very difficult theme, a dark theme, but we believe it does so in a way that is very accessible. It is a rite-of-passage film, it is a comedy, it is a horror… We do not sensationalise the theme, we do not exploit it, we do not try to preach, we do not try to offer any sort of biased perspective on it… In that sense, we believe that the film says something about teenage life, and not only, that is very honest and deserves a deeper reflection. It touches the teenage sense of loss, the feeling of isolation. We do hope that the film will play the festival circuit for as long as possible and that the still available territories will be sold.

Can you talk a little about the design aspects of the film’s branding…for example, choice of font, color, and the development of its poster. How do you view the branding strategy of the film?
We have just started crystallising our vision for the marketing strategy… The new posters and trailer are yet to be released. They stress the genre elements of the film, the ensemble cast as well as the teenage angst at the heart of it. Although at the Berlinale the film is playing in the Generation section, we do believe that it does have considerable crossover potential.

Finally, if you could describe your film in one word, what would it be?


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