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Mstyslav Chernov wins Directors Guild Award for ‘20 days in Mariupol’

by Alexander Khrebet February 11, 2024 8:50 PM 2 min read
Poster From 20 days in Mariupol (Facebook)
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Ukrainian journalist Mstyslav Chernov's documentary “20 Days in Mariupol” won the Directors Guild of America Award for outstanding directorial achievement in a documentary for 2023, the guild announced on Feb. 10.

The documentary records the Russian siege of Mariupol in Donetsk Oblast from the perspective of Chernov and his crew during the first weeks of the full-scale invasion.

The other four movies nominated in the Outstanding Directorial Achievement in the Documentary category were Bobi Wine: The People's President, Beyond Utopia, Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie, and Kokomo City.

Since its release in January 2023, “20 Days in Mariupol” has won audience prizes at the Sundance Film Festival, International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, Hot Docs Canadian Documentary Festival, and DocuDaysUA.

The “20 Days in Mariupol” documentary comprised 30 hours of footage Chernov and his colleagues shot in Mariupol before the crew left the besieged city. Chernov and his AP colleagues Vasylysa Stepanenko and Evgeniy Maloletka arrived in Mariupol one hour before the full-scale Russian invasion on Feb. 24.

After 20 days of covering the siege of the city, they had to leave because Russian forces started hunting the photographers “for publishing a detailed account of the atrocities happening in Mariupol.”

Russia's months-long siege of Mariupol between February and May reduced the port city into a landscape of rubble and killed thousands.

Chernov is a Ukrainian photographer, photojournalist, and filmmaker who was working for the Associated Press when Russia launched its all-out war against Ukraine.

For filming the siege of Mariupol, he has received several awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, the Deutsche Welle Freedom of Speech Award, and the Georgiy Gongadze Award.

“20 Days in Mariupol” has also become the first Ukrainian film made by a Ukrainian director to receive an Oscar nomination since the country gained independence in 1991.

Ukrainian filmmakers center resilience, horrors of war at Sundance Film Festival
The first Russian bomb hit the outskirts of Mariupol an hour after video journalist Mstyslav Chernov arrived to the city on Feb. 24, the first day of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine. For 20 days that followed, Chernov’s team captured Russian blows strangling the city block by block.
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