Essential Details about the Riveting Ukraine War Documentary ’20 Days in Mariupol’

by Chloe Baker
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'20 Days in Mariupol' documentary

Cinema-goers in specific cities will soon have the opportunity to view “20 Days in Mariupol,” a deeply moving documentary that captures Russia’s initial attack on the Ukrainian city.

This 94-minute film is a collaborative effort between The Big Big News and PBS “Frontline,” and has garnered critical praise and an audience award at the Sundance Film Festival. Mstyslav Chernov, an AP journalist, directed the movie, using 30 hours of footage that he and his AP colleagues captured in Mariupol during the initial stages of the war.

Chernov, together with Evgeniy Maloletka, a photographer, and producer Vasilisa Stepanenko, were the last international journalists in the city prior to their escape.

Chernov expressed a need to utilize the extensive footage to narrate a more comprehensive story and to convey to the audience the full extent of the situation, saying, “I thought I should do something more with that 30 hours of footage to tell a bigger story and more context to show the audience of the scale.”

As the film begins to be shown in theaters, here’s a closer look at its creation and where it will be available for viewing.

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Screenings of the film will commence this Friday in theaters in New York and Chicago. Details about showtimes and tickets can be found at https://20daysinmariupol.com/.

In the following week, the film will be shown in Chicago, Boston, Santa Monica, California, and the Bay Area. On July 28, the film will be screened in Sarasota, Florida.

Later in the year, the documentary will be broadcasted on PBS’ “Frontline.”


The documentary presents a raw depiction of the initial stages of the war in Mariupol, full of death and despair. Chernov, Maloletka, and Stepanenko documented the street battles, the tremendous pressure on the besieged residents of Mariupol, and attacks that caused fatalities among pregnant women, children, and others.

The film’s trailer gives a glimpse of some of the challenging scenes in the film.


The film has been met with overwhelmingly positive reviews, boasting a 100% rating on the film rating website Rotten Tomatoes.

Harper’s Bazaar has stated that viewing Chernov’s film is a “humanitarian duty.”

The Hollywood Reporter mentioned in its review, “What comes through most vividly, other than the human tragedy on display, is the vital importance of war correspondents and the courage and ingenuity they must possess in order to work under such life-threatening conditions.”


During their 20 days in Mariupol, Chernov and the AP team could only send limited footage and reports.

Once they had safely exited the city, the team had the chance to examine their footage. Chernov decided to concentrate on the period they spent in the city and provided narration for the film himself.

He believes in sharing emotions with the audience, stating, “It’s OK to tell the audiences about your emotions,” but he insists that it’s important to not let those emotions influence what is shown. He strived to maintain fairness in his narration.

The film was edited by “Frontline” producer Michelle Mizner.


Chernov’s personal recount of escaping the city — as Russian soldiers pursued the AP team — reveals the remarkable backstory of their reporting.

Even after their exit from Mariupol, the AP team continued their documentation of the conflict in the city. This included an in-depth investigation into a Russian attack on a theater, which killed an estimated 600 civilians, and Russia’s attempts to erase the city’s identity after gaining control over it.

The team’s work was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for public service. Links to the team’s stories and videos can be found on the Pulitzer site. The AP’s war coverage, including in Mariupol and beyond, won the breaking news photography category this year.

A project on possible war crimes, jointly produced by AP and “Frontline,” is available on the PBS site.

Regular updates on the war are accessible for free on APNews at https://bigbignews.net/russia-ukraine.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about ’20 Days in Mariupol’ documentary

Where can I watch ’20 Days in Mariupol’?

The documentary is set to be screened in theaters in New York and Chicago from the upcoming Friday. Information regarding showtimes and tickets can be obtained from the website https://20daysinmariupol.com/. In the week following, it will be available in Chicago, Boston, Santa Monica, California, and the Bay Area, and it will be screened in Sarasota, Florida, on July 28. Additionally, the film is scheduled to be aired on PBS’ “Frontline” later in the year.

What is ’20 Days in Mariupol’ about?

’20 Days in Mariupol’ is an intense documentary that provides a raw account of the initial days of the war in Mariupol, Ukraine. It documents the street fights, the heavy strain on the city’s besieged inhabitants, and the attacks that resulted in the deaths of several individuals, including pregnant women and children.

What is the critical reception of ’20 Days in Mariupol’?

The film has received overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics, maintaining a 100% rating on the film rating website Rotten Tomatoes. Harper’s Bazaar has described viewing the film as a “humanitarian duty,” and The Hollywood Reporter has praised the courage and ingenuity of war correspondents, as showcased in the film.

How was ’20 Days in Mariupol’ created?

The film was directed by AP journalist Mstyslav Chernov who, along with his team, managed to capture 30 hours of footage during the early days of the war in Mariupol. Once the team safely exited the city, they were able to review the footage and Chernov decided to utilize it to narrate a broader story of the conflict. He himself provides the narration for the film.

Where can I learn more about the reporting behind ’20 Days in Mariupol’?

More information on the reporting behind the film can be gleaned from Chernov’s personal account of fleeing the city, available on the Pulitzer Prize website. The AP team’s extensive coverage of the war, including a detailed investigation into a Russian attack on a theater in Mariupol and Russia’s efforts to erase the city’s identity, has won the Pulitzer Prize for public service. Regular updates on the war can be found on APNews at https://bigbignews.net/russia-ukraine.

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