About

Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly is a 56-minute narrated film that unfolds along the shores of Cape Ann and in the heart of Mexico’s forested volcanic mountains. Every stage of the butterfly’s life cycle is experienced in vibrant close-up, from mating to egg to caterpillar to adult, and set against the backdrop of sea and forest, sun and wind.

By the millions the intrepid Monarchs journey thousands of miles. The most magical thing is that this migration happens in our midst, unfolding in backyards, farms, meadows, and along the shoreline, wherever milkweed and wildflowers grow.

No other butterflies in the world journey thousands of miles over such a vast area. Monarchs do not see borders, religion, ethnicities, or political differences. They are a symbol of unity, ecologically linking Canada and Mexico, and nearly every region within the United States.

The Monarchs are in great peril. Although the butterfly’s spectacular migration evolved over millennia, the last decades of human activity have put this phenomenon in grave danger. “Beauty on the Wing” is a film for all ages, created for all to gain a deeper understanding of the symbiotic relationship between habitats, wildflowers, and pollinators, and the vital role they play in our interconnected ecosystems.

Filmed in Gloucester, Massachusetts and the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserves at Estado de México and Michoacán, the film illuminates how two regions, separated by thousands of miles, are ecologically interconnected.

Logline: Experience the inspirational story of a magnificent species found in our own backyards!

Music score by Jesse Cook. Songs: “Fields of Blue,” “You,” “El Cri,” and “Afternoon at “Saties. All music written by Jesse Cook; Jesse Cook Music publishing. Link to Cook’s website: jessecook.com/.

New Haven Documentary Film Festival presents a Q&A w/Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly director Kim Smith.

Kim Smith is a documentary filmmaker, wildlife conservationist, lecturer, photojournalist, author, illustrator, and an award winning landscape designer.

Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly, a narrated documentary, premiered in August 2020.

Since its premier, Beauty on the Wing has received a number of honors and awards at environmental film festivals and children’s film festivals. Beauty on the Wing was awarded Best Documentary at the Boston International Kids Festival in November 2020, Best Feature Film at the Providence Children’s Film Festival in February 2021, and received the environmental award at the Toronto International Women Film Festival in May 2021. One of the greatest hopes for the film is that it would be inspirational and educational to both adults and young people and we are overjoyed Beauty on the Wing is finding its audience.

In March 2020 Kim created a series of short films about the Snowy Owl: https://kimsmithdesigns.com/snowy-owl-film/

Kim was recently interviewed by the BBC and PBS for her work in documenting the Monarch Butterflies. She worked with the show’s producers in writing and creating the story, providing film footage from her film Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly for the BBC produced show “Autumnwatch: New England.”

In May of 2019, Kim was featured in Audubon Magazine for her work protecting and documenting Piping Plovers, “How Plover Chicks Born in a Parking Lot Spurred a City to Make Its Beach Safer.” Kim leads a group in safeguarding local populations of Piping Plovers and is currently creating a documentary about Plovers.

In April 2018 Kim was honored to receive the Salem State University “Friend of the Earth Award” and to give the keynote address for the University’s Earth Day Weeks events program. In 2017 she was named an Essex National Heritage Trailblazer and became an Essex Heritage Commissioner in recognition of her work connecting people to place.

Her short films, A Flight of Monarchs, which was created for the Berkshire Museum, and BomBom Butterflies, have won critical acclaim. Her 45-minute documentary Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly is an inspirational story that both teaches about butterfly life cycles and reveals the connection between pollinators, plants, and the importance of conserving habitats.

In conjunction with Cambridge Seven Associates architectural firm, Kim designed the award-winning Gloucester HarborWalk Butterfly gardens. She specializes in creating pollinator habitat gardens utilizing primarily North American native wildflowers, trees, shrubs, and vines. https://kimsmithdesigns.com/design-projects/

Her book on landscape design, “Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities!,” which she both wrote and illustrated, was published by David R. Godine, Boston. https://kimsmithdesigns.com/oh-garden/

For more information on Kim’s films and design projects follow her on Facebook, Vimeo, Instagram, and Twitter, and visit her design and Monarch Butterfly film website. Kim Smith’s blogs has an average daily readership of 12,000 viewers.

For information about lectures and workshops that Kim teaches and a schedule of upcoming events, visit the Programs and Events pages of her website, for information about current short  films visit the Short Films and Trailers page. For information about the Snowy Owl Film Project go hereFor information about current public projects visit the Design Projects page. 

American Public Television World Wide Distribution. To license Beauty on the Wing, please contact Judy Barlow at Judy_Barlowaptonline.org

For all inquiries, feel free to email Kim at kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com.

For résumé  please click here.

*Please note that the Gloucester HarborWalk Butterfly garden is no longer a butterfly and pollinator garden. The garden is now under the care of a local community gardening group and it is planted primarily with with tulips, daylilies, and non-native plants.

*Please note that the Gloucester HarborWalk Butterfly garden is no longer a butterfly and pollinator garden. The garden is now under the care of a local community gardening group and it is planted primarily with with tulips, daylilies, and non-native plants.

spring flowering tulipsButterfly Courtyard Garden at Willowdale Estate

For more information about the forthcoming documentary about the Monarch Butterfly, visit the film’s website at Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly. For more information about the documentary about the Black Swallowtail Butterfly, visit the film’s website at Life Story of the Black Swallowtail ButterflyFor more information about the The Feast of Saint Joseph Community Film Project, visit the film’s website here.

Male Black Swallowtail Butterfly at Fennel

Black Swallowtail Caterpillar Investigating Camera

Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities!