20 Days in Mariupol

20 Days in Mariupol ★★★★★

You cannot explain to me a geopolitical policy that justifies this. There is no rationale, no logic, no reasoning of human governance that should allow for this. The minute you’ve bombed a child your history, your culture, your pride, your grievance don’t matter anymore. Your trauma doesn't matter anymore, because trauma that inflicts more trauma is the path to mutual destruction. None of your reasons for bombing a child matter. My nation, the United States has bombed children. And many, many other nations have as well. A few are bombing children right now. One of them is Russia. And if children are being bombed, then we have to watch. We have to see. To witness it. Confront it. There is no opinion on the Ukrainian/Russian conflict that can be shaped without staring at the dead and hearing their names, hearing how old they were. Sixteen years old. Eight years old. Eight months old. And so on.

Much of this movie is made up of stories and images we saw when they were first hitting the AP feed, disseminated to the world in bitesized clips via CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, etc. Played in the U.S. congress and European parliament. Mentioned on the United Nations floor. You will recognize the stories, director Mstyslav Chernov was the only journalist on the ground in Mariupol at the time. But here you will see them expanded and placed into context, and so given more weight and power.

Also, actually seeing Chernov’s footage journey from the ground reality he is living through, to the global media outlets, and to see Russia be so challenged by his eye-witness documentation of their war crimes in almost real time, scrambling to use their disinformation machine to discredit him, makes the whole film, including the story of getting out the story, feel like unassailable, essential journalism.

“War is like an X-Ray. You see inside people. Good people become better. Bad people become worse.”

Most important movie of the year.

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