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Journalist Evgeniy Maloletka in 20 Days in Mariupol (IMDB)

Winner of the 2024 Academy Award for Best Documentary, 20 Days in Mariupol tracks a team of Ukrainian journalists trapped in the besieged city as the 2022 Russian invasion begins. Source: Australian Catholics.

Director Mstyslav Chernov is a celebrated Ukrainian photojournalist committed to peace causes. He was in the southern coast city of Mariupol on February 24, 2022, when Russian president Vladimir Putin announced “special operations in Ukraine”, sparking the war. 

Chernov was reporting for American PBS channel’s Frontline program at the time. This documentary covers the almost three weeks that the director was in the city before leaving to take his footage to be available for the wider world. 

It may be two years since this footage was filmed but it in no way diminishes the horror, violence, atrocities and sufferings experienced by people in Mariupol.

And, for those watching the film in 2024, there is also the experience of making comparisons with the war in Gaza, the experience of the Palestinians from Israel’s retaliation following Hamas’ brutal October 7 attack. 

The director and his associates spent a lot of time in the hospitals documenting the work of doctors and nurses.

This is painful watching, even for those comfortably observing from afar. This is a kind of necessary documentation that needs to be kept and often watched, lest we forget. 

Review by Fr Peter Malone MSC, Jesuit Media

20 Days in Mariupol: Directed by Mstyslav Chernov. 95 minutes. Rated MA (Strong themes)


20 Days in Mariupol (Jesuit Media via Australian Catholics)