The first Ukrainian film to receive the most prestigious film award “Oscar” was the full-length documentary “20 Days in Mariupol”. Producer Vasilisa Stepanenko and photojournalist Yevhen Maloletka took the stage together with director Mstyslav Chernov – all three of them, working in Mariupol surrounded by Russians in February-March 2022.

“20 Days in Mariupol” is Chernov’s directorial debut; He is Ukrainian photojournalist and writer. For their coverage of the siege of Mariupol by the Russians, he, Vasylisa Stepanenko, and Yevhen Maloletka received the Pulitzer Prize, the Best Documentary at the British BAFTA Film Awards, and, finally, Ukraine’s highest award, the Shevchenko Prize. And personally, Mstyslav Chernov received the Directors Guild of America (DGA Awards) for “outstanding directorial achievement in documentary cinema.”

In his speech, which was applauded by the whole hall, Mstyslav Chernov said that he was probably the first director on this stage who would prefer not to make this film, and would like to be able to exchange the Oscar for “so that Russia never attacks Ukraine, never occupies our cities; so that the Russians do not kill tens of thousands of my fellow citizens of Ukraine.”

I would give this (reward) so that they release all the hostages, the soldiers who defended our land, the civilians who are in their prisons. But I can’t change history, I can’t change the past, but we’re all together, you and me, we’re among the most talented people in the world right now. We can make sure that history is corrected, so that the truth wins. And so that the dead people of Mariupol and those who gave their lives are never forgotten. Because cinema shapes memory, and memory shapes history.”

The film, which lasts 95 minutes, according to the audience, is very difficult to watch in one breath. The film is a documentary – and the events on the screen do not let us forget about it. The actors will no longer get up when the command “Filmed!” is heard, they will not go to wash off artificial blood, and the children’s bodies in the frame are real, and Mariupol destroyed by Russian barbarians is not a scenery. Recording the crimes of the Russian Federation on camera, Chernov, Stepanenko, and Maloletka did not count on evacuation, but did their job, hoping without hope that the truth about Mariupol would be seen by the world.

About 10% of the footage was sent from a single point in the city where there was a mobile signal. And another 30 hours of video was taken through a humanitarian corridor through 15 Russian checkpoints under the seat of a car driven by policeman Vladimir Nikulin, and a film crew in the cabin. Last year, “20 Days in Mariupol” became the highest-grossing documentary in Ukraine, collecting 500 thousand pieces. hryvnias only on the first weekend of release, but more important than all the money in the world is the truth conveyed by this painful film, that reminder that the war continues, people are dying. Ukraine is bleeding and needs effective help. And memory.

Літературний редактор.

Commentary