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Ukrainian journalist Mstyslav Chernov’s documentary “20 Days in Mariupol” won the audience prize at the Sundance Film Festival in the United States on Jan. 27.
The documentary is a first-person history of the early days of the full-scale Russian invasion of now Russian-occupied Mariupol in eastern Donetsk Oblast. Russia’s months-long siege of Mariupol between February and May reduced the port city into a landscape of rubble and killed thousands.
“I want to thank everyone who believed in us: AP, [PBS] Frontline and Sundance and all the audiences who did not turn away,” Chernov told Associated Press, adding, “this is not an achievement, it is a privilege.”
The film comprised 30 hours of footage Chernov and his colleagues shot in Mariupol before the crew left the besieged city. Chernov and his AP colleague Vasylysa Stepanenko 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.”
Chernov is a Ukrainian photographer, photojournalist, and filmmaker.
For filming the siege of Mariupol, he has received several awards, including the Deutsche Welle Freedom of Speech Award and the Georgiy Gongadze Award, among others.
Over 20,000 people are believed to have been killed during the siege, but the actual number could be much higher, according to the Mariupol City Council.