''Black Butterflies'' is an English-language Dutch drama film about the life of South-African poet Ingrid Jonker. The film was directed by Paula van der Oest and premiered in the Netherlands on February 6 before being released on 31 March 2011.


Ingrid and Anna Jonker live in a seaside shack with their elderly grandmother. One night, Anna rushes into the bedroom and tells Ingrid that their grandmother is not breathing. As her body is carried away in a hearse, the wealthy Abraham Jonker (Rutger Hauer) arrives and expresses shock that the girls have no shoes. When Anna asks what they are to call him, Abraham replies, "Call me 'Pa.'" Decades later, in 1960, an adult Ingrid (Carice van Houten) is swimming in the ocean when she starts to go under. Hearing her cries, a man on shore (Liam Cunningham) dives into the water to save her. They reach the shore, and he introduces himself as novelist Jack Cope. Overjoyed, Ingrid says she has read his novel. Jack asks how she liked it. She replies that his novel saved her life. Jack is stunned to hear that she is "the poet Ingrid Jonker." Her sister Anna interrupts to say their father is waiting for her. Abraham tells Ingrid that her estranged husband, Pieter, asked for a ride to her house. Ingrid says that she and Pieter have nothing in common. In the home Ingrid and her infant daughter share with Anna, Pieter pleads for another chance. Jack calls to invite Ingrid to a party with his friends. Ingrid refuses Pieter and goes to the party. There, a black writer says that the Censorship Board has banned his unpublished novel and the police have confiscated the manuscript. He laments four years of his life gone to waste. Jack and Ingrid drive the writer to the black township of Nyanga. On the way, they are stopped by a white cop, who tries to give the writer trouble. The writer tells Jack that Ingrid's father is the head of the Censorship Board and the man who banned his novel. Jack says Ingrid isn't like her father. Jack and Ingrid go to his flat, where he tells her he has two children and is going through an ugly divorce. Ingrid shows him a poem she wrote in his honor, and Jack is moved. He asks why she wrote it, and she says his novel saved her life. They become lovers. Later, Jack tells her he is madly in love with her and asks her and her daughter to move in with him. She accepts. However, Jack refuses to marry her. He eventually says he is unable to write and says being with her "drains him," although Ingrid continues to write. He decides to visit his sons and their mother for two or three months. Ingrid is distraught at the idea of being apart for so long and begs him not to go. She quits her job to see him off at the train station, where she asks him to stay or take her with him. Jack leaves. Ingrid is shown having a private abortion. Jack calls to tell Ingrid that he will be away for another month. Angered, she seduces a writer named Eugene Maritz (the real-life André Brink). Eugene is a fan of Ingrid's poetry, and playwright Uys Krige lauds him as a new literary talent. Jack returns to find a pair of Eugene's shoes in his closet and kicks Ingrid out. Ingrid and Jack witness the police shoot at a car, killing a black child. The horror of this and the apartheid motivates Ingrid to write her most famous poem, "Die Kind." Ingrid's father supports the Apartheid as the Chair of the parliamentary select committee responsible for censorship laws on art, publishing, and entertainment. He is a tyrannical man who never shows Ingrid affection and is embarrassed by her opposition to his political views, her support of writers whose work he censors, and her own writing. When she asks him to read a new poem of hers, he reads only part of it and rips it up. Ingrid's interpersonal issues with her father, Jack, and Eugene lead to her depression. She is committed to Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital, where Jack visits her and learns about her previous pregnancy. He asks why she did not tell him. She says he would have married her only for that reason. Ingrid tells him the hospital took all her poems, but she still has them in her head. Jack finds a pocketbook full of poems in the box of her belongings. He and Uys find them good and feverishly work to compile them into a book. After Ingrid is released, the book is accepted by a publisher. She dedicates the book to Jack and Uys. The book is well reviewed and nominated for the prestigious APB Award. Ingrid is able to go to Europe for the first time. Before leaving, she visits her father at work to give him the news and ask him to accompany her. Her father tells her he wanted to ban her book and only did not do so because his colleagues said it would cause a scandal. He says he never wants to see her again. Ingrid asks Jack to accompany her to Europe, but he says the government would not issue him a passport because of his political views. She invites Eugene, and he accepts. During the trip, he finds her writing a poem about her love for Jack and is furious. He tells her he is returning to South Africa early. Ingrid performs an abortion on herself and is hospitalized. The hospital calls her father to ask for permission to conduct electroconvulsive shock therapy. He gives his permission. Ingrid is no longer able to write and no longer smiles. She goes to Jack's home one night and gives him her AFB medal along with a poem about her love for him. She takes her life by walking into the ocean. Later, Jack is shown watching from a distance her body being recovered. The film ends with a recording of Nelson Mandela's reading of Ingrid's poem in his address to the first democratically elected parliament.


* Carice van Houten as Ingrid Jonker * Rutger Hauer as Abraham Jonker * Liam Cunningham as Jack Cope *Graham Clarke as Uys Krige


The film holds a score of 73% on Rotten Tomatoes.

External links

* * {{Golden Calf for Best Feature Film Category:Dutch films Category:Dutch drama films Category:Apartheid films Category:Films about writers Category:Films set in Cape Town Category:2011 drama films Category:2011 films