Wild Butterfly is a devastating documentary uncovering the truth behind the controversial case of Claire Murray, a Western Australian 24-year-old mother-of-two who needed a liver transplant in order to stay alive.
Her first transplant failed, as she had been struggling with drug addiction for years and relapsed. She was condemned by the public, judged from the media, and cruelly harassed and persecuted. What people didn’t know is that young Claire Murray had been hiding a secret – she had been the victim of a terrible crime. Something that happened when she was only a little girl, something that broke her into pieces. She was not only struggling with her deadly addictions, but she was also struggling to cope with her past.
From a happy childhood to a devastating, life-changing event, and dark trauma kept secret for too long that was consuming her inside, Murray tried to kill herself twice, at the age of 14. She was only a teenager, yet had completely given up on life. Struggling with drugs since she was sixteen, she was a mother-of-two by the time she was 20. She was portrayed as a junkie-mum by mainstream and social media, but she managed to stop using drugs during both pregnancies. Those who knew her affirmed that she really cared about her children.
After Murray’s first liver transplant failed, her only chance of surviving was through a second transplant, which was denied to her. Murray’s father turned to the press, hoping an interview would get them public support. The complete opposite happened. In a poll about whether she should or should not be considered for a second transplant, 76% of people voted she didn’t deserve that second chance.
The film mixes real-life interviews with re-enactments of the past, and we hear the powerful testimonies of Murray’s counselor, her mum, dad, and aunt, who selflessly donated her liver to her niece. The re-enacted performances are amazing. Ashleigh Zinko’s performance (as Claire Murray) is impeccable, and we quickly get under her skin and feel her troubles as if they were our own.
Besides the powerful story, the music and sound effects are cleverly used and strongly add to the drama of this documentary film. They deeply contribute in making us feel as anxious and isolated as Murray. The film is very aesthetic, and visuals are used in an almost poetic way and become as important as the narrative.
Wild Butterfly spreads light to a very dark and complex topic regarding the stigma and discrimination faced by drug users, and it shows how biased, unfair, and cruel mainstream media and public opinion can be. More importantly, the documentary is an attempt to re-shape people’s minds and educate them. On the official website for the film, we can find a list of explanatory resources written by educators and professionals talking about drug and alcohol abuse, mental health and trauma, and how to professionally report on these topics. There’s also a Trauma Informed Journalism training module being developed so journalism students are better prepared to report on these topics in a conscious way.
Wild Butterfly is about life, injustice and second chances. It’s heartbreaking and confronting, but deeply necessary. It can be painful to watch but pain is sometimes necessary to create awareness and contribute to social change.
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Wild Butterfly: The Claire Murray Story is screening across Australia now, get your tickets here!
The documentary took nine years to finish, as there was a lot of research needed. It took three years for Claire’s school to give the school’s files to her dad.