PARK CITY, UTAH — The visceral feature film “20 Days in Mariupol” by The Associated Press and Frontline (PBS) has been awarded the Sundance Film Festival’s World Cinema Documentary Competition Audience Award.
The film, which made its world premiere at Sundance last week, offers a first-person view of the early days of Russia’s invasion of the port city of Mariupol, Ukraine. It is told through the perspective of Ukrainian-born director and AP video journalist Mstyslav Chernov.
“I want to thank everyone who believed in us — the AP, Frontline, Sundance and all the audiences who didn't turn away from this film,” Chernov said while accepting the award. “This is not an achievement. This is a privilege for me as a director, for us as a team, and for all Ukrainians. People care and the whole world will watch them fight.”
Chernov and his colleagues, photographer Evgeniy Maloletka and field producer Vasilisa Stepanenko, were the only remaining international reporters in Mariupol as Russian troops attacked the city. Together they documented what would become defining images of the war: dying children, mass graves, the bombing of a maternity hospital, and more.
Produced and edited by Frontline's Michelle Mizner, “20 Days in Mariupol” draws on Chernov’s daily news dispatches and personal footage of his own country at war. The result is a raw and haunting account of a journalist risking his life to share the truth of the conflict with the world.
“We’re so proud of Mstyslav, Michelle and the entire ‘20 Days in Mariupol’ team. This audience award reflects the incredible impact this documentary has had on viewers thus far, and the gravity of this essential, on-the-ground reporting in Ukraine,” says Raney Aronson-Rath, editor-in-chief and executive producer of Frontline. “We share this honor with our colleagues at The Associated Press, and with GBH, CPB and PBS.”
“We are thrilled that ‘20 Days in Mariupol’ was so well received by audiences. It can be difficult to watch the realities of war, but it's essential for the world to see the facts as they unfolded,” said AP Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Julie Pace. “This film is a testament to the power and importance of eyewitness journalism."
Called a “harrowingly immediate look at a city under siege” by Variety, “haunting and riveting“ by The Los Angeles Times, and “one of the most important movies of Sundance” by RogerEbert.com, the documentary made its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on Friday, Jan. 20.
“20 Days in Mariupol” is part of a larger editorial collaboration between Frontline and AP examining Russia’s war in Ukraine.