20 Days In Mariupol

20 Days in Mariupol
An incredibly disturbing yet important depiction of the first month of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

20 Days In Mariupol

Release Date: November 21, 2023
Runtime: 01:35
As the Russian invasion begins, a team of Ukrainian journalists trapped in the besieged city of Mariupol struggle to continue their work documenting the war’s atrocities.

Ukrainian members of the associated press find themselves besieged in the city of Mariupol during the first month of Russia's invasion of Ukraine in . Pulitzer Prize-winning video journalist Mstyslav Chernov filmed the devastation in the Southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol during Russia's invasion of the country in February and March 2022. As Russian forces blockade all exits from the city, Mstyslav and his team try to find a way to escape the city and show their footage to the world.

20 Days in Mariupol Synopsis

20 Days in Mariupol is a first-hand depiction of the Russian Invasion of Ukraine directed, filmed, and narrated by Mstyslav Chernov. On February 24, 2022, Vladimir Putin announced a “special military operation,” which effectively declared war on Ukraine, the invasion of which began immediately after Putin's statement. Mstyslav Chernov and his fellow members of the Associated Press bore witness to the scope of the devastation in Mariupol, which included the targeting of private citizens and hospitals, acts that are considered war crimes.

Mstyslav manages to share what footage he can with the help of a satellite phone, which is broadcast on news outlets across. However, Russian propaganda accuses this footage of being faked. It eventually reaches the point where Mstyslav Chernov has to try and escape Mariupol with his footage, risking capture by the Russians and being forced to disavow his coverage.

My Thoughts on 20 Days in Mariupol

At one point in his narration, Mstyslav Chernov mentions how war tends to make good people better and bad people worse. Indeed, 20 Days in Mariupol is a film that isn't afraid to show the horrors of war, This includes doctors, running out of painkillers and other supplies, and desperately trying to save children injured in Russia's bombing of Mariupol.

While the film does blur out the more graphic images, there is still a disturbing level of violent content seen in 20 Days of Mariupol, whether it be dozens of corpses being thrown into a mass grave or Russian tanks arriving into the city and causing mass destruction to nearby buildings. At the tail end of the 20 days, Mstyslav Chernov and his team find themselves trapped in a hospital under siege and must find a way to escape the city.

Probably more disturbing than the violence in 20 Days in Mariupol is Russia's denial of it. After one of the more disturbing moments in the film, involving the bombing of a maternity hospital, there are clips shown from Russian reports saying that Mstyslav Chernov's footage is “fake news” and filmed using actors. Even Russia's ambassador to the UN says as much when interviewed towards the film's end.

With its unflinching depictions of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, 20 Days in Mariupol is an incredibly disturbing and hard-to-watch documentary. However, it is also a very important documentary, as it gives a first-hand look at how much devastation the invasion truly caused. With the invasion now being in its third year, 20 Days in Mariupol is a must-watch.

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Trailer for 20 Days In Mariupol

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.