One of Holland’s most talented filmmakers and Oscar-nominee contender, Paula van der Oest collaborates with South African award-winning scriptwriter, Greg Latter for eight years to bring to the big screen Black Butterflies. The complex and gripping narrative is about the life of Ingrid Jonker (Carice Van Houten)* who was one of South Africa’s notable poets, writing in Afrikaans. Her transparency, honesty and desire to explore the depth of the human soul drew a fan base. Her first collection of poems, Na die somer (After the Summer), was published when she was thirteen years old. Many deemed her as a genius. Her poetry collections marked the beginning of her literary career receiving many awards until her untimely death at age thirty-two. The only recognition Ingrid ever craved was the love and acceptance from her father, Abraham Jonker (Rutger Hauer)--South Africa’s minister of Censorship. It was affection he was not capable of giving her. Ingrid’s desire for his attention and love hindered her maturity in relationships, particularly with men. Paula van der Oest uses the South African apartheid as backdrop to explore what it was like to live in a system of cruelty where artists were suppressed. Ingrid understood because she was among the artists who were monitored when using their art to speak against injustice. Black Butterflies explores Ingrid’s personal journey as an acclaimed poet living in apartheid as a wild canon. Her art form gave her freedom and comfort but collided with her emotional world of pain and suffering to stem from the rejection of her father and the struggle to love herself.
Her poem “The Child Who Was Shot Dead by Soldiers in Nyanga”became instantly famous in 1994 when Nelson Mandela read it during his first speech to the South African Parliament in 1994. Her spirit and her words continue to live as an infectious character especially today in her daughter. Simone Jonker explains, “I feel uplifted that the world will get to know her work and what she stood for. Her poems mean everything to me. She is the anchor of my life. I read her poems every day, the poems live and every day they give me hope and inspiration.