Kantemir Balagov to Direct ‘Butterfly Jam’ for Square Peg, AR Content (Exclusive)

Beanpole director Kantemir Balagov is set to make his English-language feature debut with Butterfly Jam, with Ari Aster’s Square Peg Partners and Alexander Rodnyansky’s AR Content on board to produce.

Set in a tight-knit New Jersey community of Kabardian immigrants, Butterfly Jam, earlier titled Monica, portrays a complicated relationship between a father and son, in which the son imbues his father with qualities he doesn’t actually possess. Balagov broke out as a director with his two earlier feature films, Closeness and Beanpole, both of which debuted at the Cannes Film Festival.

Lars Knudsen and Ari Aster, director of Hereditary and Midsommar, will produce Butterfly Jam alongside Russian producer Rodnyansky, who produced Beanpole and Leviathan, both of which landed Oscar nominations.

“I worked with Alexander on Beanpole, and it’s incredible how respectful he is towards directors. He knows that artistic freedom is essential for auteurs,” Balagov said in a statement. “AR Content and Square Peg are a dream team. I feel happy and blessed and cannot wait to share this story with the audience.”

“Kantemir’s two features are among the most singular and gorgeous and haunting that I’ve seen, and it’s a thrill to be working with him,” Aster added in his own statement.

Closeness portrayed a small Jewish community in the North Caucasus in the late 1990s after the fall of the Soviet Empire. Beanpole, which revolved around two women ravaged by the Second World War, earned the best director prize in the Un Certain Regard section and the FIPRESCI Critics prize at Cannes in 2019.

“It is a joy and privilege to continue watching Kantemir grow as a filmmaker,” said Rodnyansky, who has developed Butterfly Jam through his production banner AR Content. Balagov was to have directed his third feature after he wrapped work on HBO’s Last of Us for showrunner Craig Mazin, but he chose to leave that project a year ago over creative differences.

Square Peg is in post-production on Aster’s Disappointment Blvd for A24, and is in production on Kristoffer Borgli’s Dream Scenario, with Nicolas Cage, also for A24. AR Content is currently developing a series about Genghis Khan with Fox, having retained the North American rights, and has a first look deal with Apple TV+.

Balagov is repped by CAA and Ithaka Media. AR Content is repped by CAA. Knudsen and Aster are repped by WME.

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