20 Days in Mariupol is a cinematic tour de force that transcends the boundaries of traditional documentary-making, delivering a visceral and unforgettable account of war through the lens of Ukrainian journalist Mstyslav Chernov. As an AP team of Ukrainian journalists becomes trapped in the besieged city of Mariupol, their struggle to document the atrocities of the Russian invasion unfolds with raw intensity, capturing the horrors of a senseless war.

Chernov, with almost a decade of experience covering international conflicts, including the Russia-Ukraine war for The Associated Press, makes his directorial debut here.  Drawing on his daily news dispatches and personal footage, Chernov creates a harrowing narrative that not only offers a vivid account of civilians caught in the siege but also provides a window into the tumultuous world of conflict journalism.

20 Days In Mariupol

As the team of fearless Ukrainian journalists, led by Chernov, find themselves on the ground in the strategically significant port city of Mariupol at the onset of the Russian invasion, their unflinching lenses capture the sickening collective realisation that ordinary people have now become targets in this brutal conflict.

The film serves as a stark reminder of the accelerating nature of the conflict. As the world witnesses the devastating impact on civilians, including children and infants. The documentary also sheds light on the journalists themselves, operating under extreme duress as they navigate the wreckage of the city in search of a wifi signal to communicate with the rest of the world.

20 Days In Mariupol

Chernov’s narration, delivered with a sobering tone, provides context to the footage, offering viewers a deeper understanding of the circumstances surrounding the horrifying scenes. His voice, almost numb and matter-of-fact, contrasts sharply with the urgency and desperation portrayed on screen. This dissonance emphasizes the grave spiritual toll that comes from bearing witness to such unimaginable suffering.

The unrelenting camera captures every moment, even as members of the press dodge sniper bullets and endure aerial bombardment. The film reveals the unsettling reality where doctors, in the midst of emergency surgeries, implore Chernov and his colleagues to film the casualties. It’s a plea driven not just by duty but by a deep conviction that the world needs to bear witness to the atrocities. The juxtaposition of medical professionals urging documentation amid chaos underscores the ethical and emotional burdens carried by journalists in conflict zones.

20 Days In Mariupol

20 Days in Mariupol is, without a doubt, an extremely tough watch, but its importance cannot be overstated. It offers an unfiltered view of the human consequences of war, emphasizing the role of journalists as witnesses and communicators. It’s a film that transcends the screen, leaving an indelible mark on the viewer’s conscience. For its raw authenticity, emotional depth, and societal relevance, 20 Days in Mariupol stands as one of the most impactful documentaries of our time.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
20 Days in Mariupol
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Linda Marric is a senior film critic and the newly appointed Reviews Editor for HeyUGuys. She has written extensively about film and TV over the last decade. After graduating with a degree in Film Studies from King's College London, she has worked in post-production on a number of film projects and other film related roles. She has a huge passion for intelligent Scifi movies and is never put off by the prospect of a romantic comedy. Favourite movie: Brazil.
20-days-in-mariupol-reviewThe film is a cinematic tour de force that transcends the boundaries of traditional documentary-making, delivering a visceral and unforgettable account of war. 20 Days in Mariupol stands as one of the most impactful documentaries of our time.