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The harrowing Ukraine war doc ’20 Days in Mariupol’ is coming to TV. Here’s how to watch

by Chloe Baker
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Documentary

The compelling documentary “20 Days in Mariupol,” which provides a visceral account of Russia’s early assault on the Ukrainian city, is set to reach a broader audience in the near future. This 94-minute film, a collaborative effort between The Big Big News and PBS “Frontline,” has garnered critical acclaim, including an audience award at the Sundance Film Festival. Directed by AP journalist Mstyslav Chernov, the documentary is the result of 30 hours of footage captured in Mariupol during the initial days of the war. Chernov, along with his AP colleagues Evgeniy Maloletka, a photographer, and producer Vasilisa Stepanenko, were the last international journalists on the ground in Mariupol before their daring escape.

The documentary aims to provide a more comprehensive narrative and context, showcasing the scale of the events that unfolded during those tumultuous 20 days. After being screened in various cities, “20 Days in Mariupol” is scheduled to air on PBS stations in the United States starting on Tuesday, making it accessible to a wider audience. Below, we’ll provide details on how the documentary was created and where you can watch it.

How “20 Days in Mariupol” Came to Be

Director Mstyslav Chernov crafted the film using the 30 hours of footage he captured while covering the first 20 days of the Russian invasion of Mariupol. Chernov and his AP colleagues, Evgeniy Maloletka and Vasilisa Stepanenko, had a harrowing experience as they were the last international journalists remaining in the besieged Ukrainian city before their escape. Chernov’s first-person account of their escape, pursued by Russian soldiers, adds a remarkable layer to the backstory of their reporting.

Where to Watch “20 Days in Mariupol”

PBS broadcasts vary by locality, so the best way to find out when the documentary will air is to visit the “Frontline” website at https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/schedule/. Additionally, “Frontline” episodes are typically available on the PBS app after they have been broadcast, providing viewers with alternative ways to access the documentary.

What to Expect from the Film

“20 Days in Mariupol” offers an intense portrayal of the early days of the war, depicting the grim realities of conflict, including loss of life. Chernov, Maloletka, and Stepanenko documented the fierce fighting in the streets, the immense pressure faced by Mariupol’s residents under siege, and the tragic casualties, including pregnant women and children. The film’s trailer provides a glimpse into the challenging scenes depicted in the documentary.

Critical Acclaim

The documentary has received widespread critical acclaim and has earned several awards, including two Critics Choice honors. It currently holds a perfect 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. “Watching Chernov’s film is a humanitarian duty,” remarked Harper’s Bazaar. The New York Times named it a Critic’s Pick, acknowledging its difficulty but noting that the episodic structure makes it more manageable to endure. The Hollywood Reporter emphasized the film’s portrayal of the vital role of war correspondents and their courage in reporting under life-threatening conditions.

The Creation Process

During their 20 days in Mariupol, Chernov and the AP team could only send limited footage and dispatches. Once they were safely outside the city, they reviewed their footage, and Chernov decided to focus on their time in Mariupol. He provided the narration for the film himself, aiming to maintain fairness in the storytelling. “Frontline” producer Michelle Mizner undertook the editing process for “20 Days.”

Digging Deeper

Chernov’s personal account of the team’s escape from the city, with Russian soldiers in pursuit, offers a captivating backstory to their reporting. After leaving Mariupol, the AP team continued to document the conflict in the city, including a thorough investigation into a Russian attack on a theater that resulted in the deaths of approximately 600 civilians, as well as Russia’s efforts to reshape the city’s identity after gaining control. Their comprehensive coverage led to the team winning the Pulitzer Prize for public service, with the Pulitzer website providing links to their stories and videos. Additionally, AP’s coverage of the war, both in Mariupol and beyond, received the breaking news photography Pulitzer this year.

AP and “Frontline” collaborated on a project tracking potential war crimes, which includes two short documentaries available on PBS’ website.

For further coverage of Russia’s war in Ukraine, you can visit https://bigbignews.net/russia-ukraine.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Documentary

Q: Where can I watch “20 Days in Mariupol”?

A: You can watch “20 Days in Mariupol” on PBS stations in the United States, and it will also be available on the PBS app. Be sure to check the “Frontline” website for local broadcast schedules.

Q: What is the documentary “20 Days in Mariupol” about?

A: “20 Days in Mariupol” is a harrowing documentary that provides an intense account of Russia’s early assault on the Ukrainian city of Mariupol. It captures the grim realities of conflict, including the struggles faced by besieged residents and tragic casualties.

Q: Has “20 Days in Mariupol” received critical acclaim?

A: Yes, the documentary has garnered excellent critical reception and won several awards, including two Critics Choice honors. It currently holds a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and reviewers have emphasized its importance in bearing witness to the human tragedy of war.

Q: Who were the journalists behind “20 Days in Mariupol”?

A: The documentary was directed by Mstyslav Chernov, an AP journalist, who, along with his colleagues Evgeniy Maloletka (photographer) and Vasilisa Stepanenko (producer), were the last international journalists in Mariupol during the early days of the conflict. Their experiences and reporting are a central part of the documentary.

Q: Is there additional content related to the reporting behind the film?

A: Yes, Chernov’s first-person account of their escape from Mariupol, pursued by Russian soldiers, provides a captivating backstory to their reporting. The AP team continued to document the conflict in Mariupol after leaving, including an investigation into a Russian attack on a theater and Russia’s actions in the city after gaining control. This comprehensive coverage earned them the Pulitzer Prize for public service.

Q: How was the documentary created?

A: The documentary was crafted from the 30 hours of footage that Chernov and the AP team captured during their 20 days in Mariupol. Chernov narrated the film, aiming to maintain fairness in storytelling, and “Frontline” producer Michelle Mizner handled the editing process.

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