Spanish film shot in Tulsa pre-pandemic, finally gets premiere at Circle Cinema

TULSA, Okla. — “The Nation of Butterflies” is a feature film shot entirely in the Tulsa area in 2018. As the production entered the post-production phase the pandemic hit.

Felipe Oyarzo, the producer, director, writer, and actor of the project got COVID-19 and everything came to a halt.

“I was in the hospital and it took because I was with oxygen support here at home for months. So that took a delay. Everyone had to wait for me to get better,” said Oyarzo.

Oyarzo began writing the script in 2017, and the storyline centers around a Latin American country that has transformed and is thriving economically, and environmentally, and has become a nation of peace with virtually no crime. However, some citizens are resistant to the changes and will strive to remain living in their old ways at all costs.

The Spanish title is “La Nación de las Mariposas.” The script is about 90% Spanish and 10% English, as some of the characters interact with characters who are foreigners. Oyarzo mainly needed actors who spoke fluent Spanish.

In the Spring of 2018, Oyarzo and his family-run and owned company, Levites Studios hit the ground running with casting.

“I started looking with our team here in Tulsa, for talent in the state of Oklahoma. And that’s how we got Edna,” said Oyarzo.

Edna Garcia is a Spanish-speaking actress from Oklahoma City. One of Garcia’s friends saw a Facebook post on an open casting call and immediately thought that this film would be perfect for her.

“I was able to send my resume, headshots, and demo reel to Felipe,” said Garcia. “It’s not very often that you have Spanish movies in Oklahoma.”

Felipe said he was impressed by Garcia’s talent and she was booked for the project in the role of “Acacia.”

“She’s part of a secret society, the Union. They are trying to overthrow the new government,” said Garcia. “I was pretty amazed by the script, I loved it. I think it was a very original idea and it was something definitely very new and I also was very excited because I knew Patricia Manterola was going to be in it and I’ve always been a fan of hers,” said Garcia.

Patricia Manterola is a Mexican actress and is considered an icon amongst Latinos here in the United States and around the world. Manterola was cast as the production’s lead actress.

On top of producing, casting, and writing the script, Oyarzo also plays the main character, the President.

“It was a great experience because I had a good team supporting me. For most of the making of the movie, we had a filmmaker from Chile, Osvaldo Monje Mora, who came to Tulsa to film the scenes where I got to act,” said Oyarzo. “I felt that acting in the movie brought me closer to the actors and actresses who participated in the film.”

Oyarzo eventually recovered from the coronavirus and was able to complete editing the film.

“The Nation of Butterflies” was a finalist at Near Nazareth Cinema Festival in Israel and was accepted at The Madrid Film Awards, in Spain.

Four years after shooting the production, the film will finally premiere, with English subtitles at a special, red carpet event at Circle Cinema on May 13.

“I’m excited, you know, it’s been four years. This is gonna be my first red carpet event after the pandemic. So yes, I’m very excited. I still don’t know what to wear, but so yeah, I’m excited to see everybody and excited to watch the film,” said Garcia.

“The Nation of Butterflies” will screen for two weeks at Circle Cinema starting May 14.

“Then, on May 20th it’s going to be worldwide. It will be on Amazon, Vudu, iTunes, Apple TV, and Google Play,” said Oyarzo.

After facing one of the biggest pandemics in the history of mankind and with the war between Russia and Ukraine, Oyarzo believes the release of this film comes at the most perfect time.

“Because the movie is about these things and I feel that a lot of people are going to feel inspired,” said Oyarzo.