The godlike status of children in Iranian cinema receives further reinforcement in multi-hyphenate Mohammad Ebrahim Moaiery’s feature debut, “The Butterflies Are Just a Step Behind.” Stylistically interesting but thematically hoary story of a boy’s protective watch over a flood victim reps little new but shows enough creative promise to give hope for additional projects by Moaiery. Shoestring budget and abundance of similar product make it doubtful this butterfly will flit to greener pastures.
A devastating flood in Iran’s northern provinces leaves 8-year-old, mute Neda orphaned and shell-shocked. She’s found by Shomal, an older boy who takes her under his wing, despite his parents’ rejection of her. By the shores of the Caspian Sea, Shomal becomes obsessed with a legend that says his wishes will be granted if he can count 7,000 flamingoes. Helmer Moaiery inserts two painterly animated segs (by Manouchehr Kohan Dairi) but fails to make them a consistent element. Likewise, use of large close-ups to make subtle statements of tone needs a firmer hand to harness them into a tighter pic. Attractive compositions are hampered by poor color processing. No cast list was available in press info.