As Told by the Butterflies (Nawruz Paguidopon, 2011) September 14, 2011Posted by Richard Bolisay in Asian Films, Docu, Noypi.
Written and directed by Nawruz Paguidopon
What’s very upsetting about Ang Ladlad party list’s defeat in the May 2010 elections is not the missed opportunity of winning a seat in Congress—although that, of course, is a shame—but the proof that some members of the local gay community consider indifference an option, even if the cause being raised is that of their own. Ang Ladlad only received a total of 113, 187 votes or 0.37 percent, below the 2 percent requirement to earn a congressional seat. For a group whose campaign has always been resilient and whose objectives are clear and well intentioned, Ang Ladlad lost an important battle. What went wrong? To whom this loss should be attributed? Whatever happened to the strong solidarity that the LGBT community is known for? Nawruz Paguidopon’s As Told By the Butterflies does not provide answers, but he tries to dig some of them by interviewing people from the party list, most notably the group’s leader, Danton Remoto.
“A struggle is always long and unfinished,” Danton says hopefully in an interview. Later on when Ang Ladlad members walk around a community to celebrate Santacruzan and promote the group, he remarks about the Catholic bishops trying to stop them, “They’ve been wrong before. And they are wrong again.” Danton’s conviction offers a glaring contrast to the story being told in the film, that of a suicidal young man burdened by his homosexuality. The inclusion of such detail, which serves as the film’s main prop, is obviously a personal decision, but the weakness of it lies in how the narrator contemplates his problem, the hopelessness in his voice when he tells, “hindi puwede kasi hindi mangyayari.” Nawruz presents a grim contradiction, a truth that seems to forget that the personal and the political are actually inseparable, taking for granted that windows, aside from offering escape, also provide a view of the sky from end to end.