Flying high: A Moth and A Butterfly

A film that quietly follows the mundane lives of two people with a minimal amount of dialogue may not, at first glance, have the look of a box office winner. Yet York University film student Gilbert Kwong has done a lot better than any studio boss could imagine, judging by the response of the independent film community.

Right: Gilbert Kwong (seated) on the set of A Moth and A Butterfly

His short dramatic film, A Moth and A Butterfly, which explores frustrated love, repressed desire and boredom between two gay brothers from Hong Kong who reunite in Toronto, has earned an impressive list of invitations, screenings and awards ever since its premiere last summer at the Locarno Film Festival, Switzerland.

Left and below: Scenes from the award-winning film A Moth and A Butterfly

Kwong was subsequently invited to show his film at the Poznan Film Festival (Poland, 2003). It was also selected for the Brno 16 Competition of Fiction Films (Czech Republic, 2003), where it won a Bronze Medal Award; Marco Island Film Festival (USA, 2003), where the film was a finalist in the student competition category; and Hong Kong Independent Film & Video Awards (China, 2004), where it received the Distinguished Award. This April, A Moth and A Butterfly will be screened at Toronto’s ReelWorld Film Festival and the Turin International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, Italy.

“It is not so much what the two characters say to each other as what they don’t or can’t say, that makes the film resonate with tension and simmering emotion,” says Kwong. “Instead of being driven by plot, the story events are organized in a rhythmical structure comparable to those of poetry and painting.”

Before turning to filmmaking, Kwong worked as an advertising photographer and a news cameraman. He is currently completing his MFA degree in the Graduate Program in Film & Video at York University, while also working as a technician in the department.

A Moth and A Butterfly was written, produced and directed by Kwong. Filmed in 16mm and mastered on HDcam (24p), the 40-minute production is in Cantonese and English with English subtitles.

Production Credits

  • Principal Cast: Teddy Wong (as older brother), Jason Chan (as younger brother)
  • Writer/Producer/Director: Gilbert Kwong
  • Cinematography: Jurek Osterfeld and Gilbert Kwong
  • Production Designer: Mimi Li
  • Editor: Gilbert Kwong
  • Sound: Andrew Solomon
  • Original Music: Andrew Solomon

For more information about the film and its upcoming screenings, call 416-274-9687 or e-mail

The above article was sent to YFile by the Faculty of Fine Arts.