Director – Mstyslav Chernov – 2023 – Ukraine – Cert. 18 – 94m
A Ukranian-born, Associated Press video journalist and his stills photographer go to Mariupol where they report on Russia’s assault and invasion of that city – out in UK cinemas on Friday, October 6th
There are some films that are incredibly tough to watch which you nevertheless know you need to watch. This documentary is one of those films. The experience of watching it clearly pales beside the actual experience of being in the Ukranian city of Mariupol during the first 20 days of the attack and subsequent siege by Russian armed forces, more so beside the actual experience of being trapped there. And I am British, so Ukraine is not my country; I find it almost incomprehensible to imagine what it would be like if what has happened to Mariupol were to happen in my home town. (If you’re an urban Brit, insert the name of your city at this point.)
I’m not convinced that the credited director Mstyslav Chernov, a Ukranian-born, Associated Press video journalist who has reported on conflicts around the globe since joining AP in 2014, set out to make a feature film. He was just (just!) doing his job, reporting events as they unfolded in a war zone and getting his recorded moving images out to the rest of the world; he and his regular collaborator, stills photographer Evgeniy Maloletka, piled into Maloletka’s van and headed for Mariupol before war was declared, reasoning that its port status would make the city a likely target for what Chernov believed was the coming Russian invasion. On the journey there, he spoke to people who didn’t believe a war was coming; within an hour of the duo’s arrival, the first shell had fallen.
Filmmaking (and film reviewing!) isn’t necessarily limited to feature length movies for the cinema: Chernov’s professional stock-in-trade is shooting news stories that will be aired on TV channels around the world as part of news programmes to inform the outside world of whatever what was going on in the area from which he was reporting. If this happens to be the city in which you were born, as it was for Chernov, I imagine the task must be harder.
Chernov’s audiovisual record of events is presented here in chronological order… [read the rest at Reform magazine…]
20 Days In Mariupol is out in UK cinemas on Friday, October 6th.