‘20 Days in Mariupol’ Review: Ukrainian City Under Siege

The authorities, the aid workers, the other journalists, everyone else is gone. A week after Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Associated Press video journalist Mstislav Chernov was still in the port city of Mariupol and saw a white “Z” on his face. I watched from the upper floors of the hospital as the painted tanks were pulled sideways. Bitter black smoke continued to rise from the husk-covered housing block a short distance away. There was no way out. Mariupol was now besieged. Chernov kept rolling the camera.

20 Days in Mariupol is a relentless and truly important documentary, taking us to Russia’s first ferocious siege of Mirai, Srebrenica, Aleppo and Mariupol, the cities that have become synonymous with the inhumanity of this war. Get involved. The Associated Press reporters were the last international news reporters in the city, with pregnant women fleeing bombed-out maternity hospitals, the elderly and others fleeing through boiling snow to get fresh water, and dead children. The newly dug trenches were recorded for three weeks. rest. The report earned Chernov, along with colleagues Evgeny Malloretka, Vasilisa Stepanenko and Lori Hinant, the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service Achievement this year, but internet connections weren’t sparse in the city. Chernoff was only able to send a small portion of the footage during the interview. Siege. It all becomes clear in 20 Days in Mariupol. There, the fight for survival in southeastern Ukraine intertwines with the struggle to tell the world what’s going on.

This movie is, and should be, very difficult to watch, but the episodic structure makes it somewhat bearable. He appears one at a time, from day 1 to his 20th, from the first bomb until the team escapes safely. On the morning of February 24, Chernov and his colleagues headed to Mariupol, a city of 500,000 on the Sea of ​​Azov, in front of a Ukrainian military base where anti-aircraft systems were burning, Russia’s first target, to prepare their way. drive through the of their fighters. Many residents suspected the violence would reach Mariupol, and the evacuation train left the city half-empty. Now we follow them into makeshift shelters like cold basements and CrossFit gyms. “I don’t want to die,” says one boy. “I wish it all ended sooner.”

But on the fourth day, fighter jets flew overhead, and Chernov is stationed in one of Mariupol’s remaining open hospitals, about a mile from the front line on the edge of Mariupol city. An ambulance arrived and he was there when paramedics gave CPR to a four-year-old girl named Evangelina who had been badly injured after a Russian artillery shell landed near her home. Her doctors rush her to her rudimentary emergency room, where she unsuccessfully attempts to resuscitate her and her blood pools on her floor. (Chernov’s face is blurred here, but the Associated Press released the uncensored image at the time.) “Keep filming,” insists the attending physician—and a minute later, on MSNBC, in grainy replay. You can see the same footage of the doctors inside. Broadcast and his ITV news in the UK.

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