20 Days in Mariupol
As the Russian invasion begins, a team of Ukrainian journalists trapped in the besieged city of Mariupol struggle to continue their work documenting the war's atrocities.
ABOUT THE FILM
On the eve of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Ukrainian filmmaker and journalist Mstyslav Chernov and his colleagues, photographer Evgeniy Maloletka, and field producer Vasilisa Stepanenko, entered the strategic eastern port city of Mariupol. During the subsequent siege and assault, as bombs fell, inhabitants fled, and access to electricity, food, water, and medicine were severed, the team struggled to cover the war atrocities and transmit their footage out. Eventually, surrounded by Russian soldiers, they sheltered in a hospital, unsure of how they’d escape.
Chernov offers a window into the practices of conflict zone reporters and an unflinching, anguishing account of their time in Mariupol. Their footage documents the death and destruction. and directly refutes Russian misinformation. Seeing so much death, Chernov wonders how capturing any more could make a difference. But residents implore them to let the world bear witness.
A team of Ukrainian journalists from The Associated Press (AP) trapped in the besieged city of Mariupol struggle to continue their work documenting atrocities of the Russian invasion. As the only international reporters who remain in the city, they capture what later become defining images of the war: dying children, mass graves, the bombing of a maternity hospital, and more.
After nearly a decade covering international conflicts, including the Russia-Ukraine war for the AP, “20 Days in Mariupol” is Mstyslav Chernov's first feature-length film. Drawing on Chernov's daily news dispatches and personal footage of his own country at war, the film is a vivid, harrowing account of civilians caught in the siege, as well as a window into what it's like to report from a conflict zone, and the impact of such journalism around the globe.
Told through the perspective of Ukrainian-born director and AP video journalist Mstyslav Chernov, 20 Days in Mariupol is a visceral, first-person view of the early days of Russia’s invasion of the city of Mariupol, Ukraine. Chernov and his colleagues, photographer Evgeniy Maloletka and field producer Vasilisa Stepanenko were the last international reporters to remain 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, the film 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.
Bearing witness to the horrors that enveloped the city, the documentary captures the beginning of the war through the lens of a Ukrainian journalist documenting the devastation of his home country.
Much of Chernov’s video and the visuals from his colleagues have been widely published around the world, from corpses in the streets to panicked, displaced civilians desperate to flee, to grief-stricken parents of children who died from Russian shelling – events reported by AP and FRONTLINE as possible war crimes. The AP footage also directly refutes Russian misinformation about the war.
Chernov has covered Ukraine and other international conflicts for The Associated Press for nearly a decade. “20 Days in Mariupol” is his first feature film.
“We went to Mariupol, not with the intention of making a documentary, but to contemporaneously report on what was happening. We later realized that, together, these video dispatches could tell a fuller story of what happened to the city’s people – a story that I hope will help audiences understand the scale of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the horrors that unfolded in Mariupol,” said Chernov.
“The work of Mstyslav Chernov and his colleagues documenting the siege of Mariupol was nothing short of heroic. Without their intrepid coverage of the violence and carnage, the world would not have seen what was happening. This underscores the value of independent journalism – without it, the facts simply would not be known,” said AP Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Julie Pace.
20 Days in Mariupol
ABOUT THE DIRECTOR
Mstyslav Chernov is a Pulitzer Prize-winning video journalist at The Associated Press and president of the Ukrainian Association of Professional Photographers. Since joining AP in 2014, he has covered major conflicts, social issues and environmental crises across Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Most recently, Chernov documented Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Together with longtime colleague Evgeniy Maloletka, Chernov recorded the siege of Mariupol, showing the world eyewitness accounts of the Russian attacks on the city. Chernov’s courageous reporting in Mariupol earned the 2023 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. He was named 2016 Camera Operator of the Year and 2015 Young Talent of the Year by the UK’s Royal Television Society.
Chernov is a filmmaker, war correspondent and novelist known for his coverage of the Revolution of Dignity, War in Donbas, including the downing of flight MH17, Syrian civil war, Battle of Mosul in Iraq, the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, including the Siege of Mariupol.
For his work about Mariupol he received the Deutsche Welle Freedom of Speech Award, the Georgiy Gongadze Award, the Knight International Journalism Awards, the Biagio Agnes Award, the Bayeux Calvados-Normandy Award, the Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award, and the Free Media Awards. At the end of 2022 his reporting was included in the nationwide Ukrainian ratings "People of the HB 2022 in the year of war" and "14 songs, photos and art objects that became symbols of Ukrainian resistance" by Forbes Ukraine. Video materials from Mariupol became the basis of the film "20 days in Mariupol", which was included in the competition program of the Sundance festival and in Chernov’s diverse photography exhibitions.
Chernov's materials have been published and aired by multiple news outlets worldwide, including CNN, BBC, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and others. He has both won and been a finalist for prestigious awards, including the Livingston Award, Rory Peck Award, Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Prize, and various Royal Television Society awards.
Raney Aronson, Producer (as Raney Aronson-Rath)
Derl McCrudden, Producer
Michelle Mizner, Producer
Lindsey Schneider, Archival Producer
Vasilisa Stepanenko, Field Producer
Jordan Dykstra (original music)
Mstyslav Chernov (filmed by)
Evgeniy Maloletka (photographed by)
Head Of Post Production
Megan McGough (as Megan McGough Christian)
Jim Ferguson, Colorist | Online Editor
Christine Guordano, Assistant Editor
Alex LaGore, Assistant Editor
Tim Meagher, Assistant Editor
Snizhana Potapchuk, Additional Editor (as Snezhana Potapchuk)
Cliff Decatrel, Director: Business Development & Distribution
David Magdael, Publicist
Will Zang, Publicist