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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

'20 Days in Mariupol': A Harrowing Documentation of Firsthand Ukrainian Footage of the 2022 Siege of Mariupol

Movie poster for 20 Days in Mariupol

20 Days in Mariupol (20 днів у Маріуполі) (2023) is a harrowing Ukrainian documentary that serves as a firsthand account of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February of 2022. The film follows a team of Ukrainian journalists who remain in the port city of Mariupol while under bombardment—witnessing the unthinkable yet determined to share the truth with the world.

Mstyslav Chernov, a young filmmaker making his feature debut, operates alongside veteran reporter Evgeniy Maloletka and a local fixer named Vasilisa Reva as they navigate a city crumbling under siege. Through Chernov's raw, handheld lens we witness the dismal costs of war: fearful children huddled in bomb shelters, mothers clinging to hopes of survival, fathers standing guard over their homes—death and destruction at every turn. Chernov and his team serve as observers as well as participants in this unfolding tragedy, risking their lives to reach survivors, document atrocities and transmit their reports to the world.

This joint production of PBS Frontline and The Associated Press delivers unflinching footage that lays bare the horrors of the Russian invasion, stripping away the veneer of modern combat. Chernov and Maloletka's film highlights the courage of journalists in the face of unimaginable horror, and the critical role they play in documenting the consequences of military incursion. Their efforts deliver a lasting record of a pivotal moment in modern history, ensuring the world confronts the enduring impact of this conflict.


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