Nadia, Butterfly (2020)

In this fictionalized account of a Team Canada swimmer at the equally fictionalized 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, we’re taken behind the scenes and into the water to see the ins and outs of what it means to be a high-level athlete.

Unlike most sports movies, this tale starts at the end of a career, as Nadia (played by real-life swimmer Katerine Savard) prepares to retire and go to university to study medicine rather than stay on the sports path. The butterfly in the film’s title alludes to both her impressive stroke in the pool and the metamorphosis she’s about to embark on after all the fanfare is over. The Quebec production takes us around the competition from an Olympian’s point of view, complete with an edge-of-your-seat relay race, feelings of isolation and team spirit, swells of media attention and a notorious athletes after party.

Though the scale of this story is one of glory and being pushed to the limit, it comes alive in the smaller details, like the moments when a screaming crowd, cheering on swimmers, is tuned out by the water or when deep friendships emerge once the athletes come up for air.

Review by Caitlin Stall-Paquet


Ariane Mainville, Katerine Savard, Pierre-Yves Cardinal

Available on:




TIFF, Women's Stories

Canadian connection

Writer/Director Pascal Plante
Montreal, Quebec