Wars don’t start with explosions. They start with silence. No knows this better than the people of Ukraine. Their lives have been uprooted and blown apart the same way their beloved country has and for what? Money? Power? Are human lives the price we pay for peace?
On the eve of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a team of Ukrainian journalists lead by Mstyslav Chernov, Evgeniy Maloletka and Vasilisa Stepanenko enter the strategic eastern port city of Mariupol. During the subsequent siege and assault, as bombs fall, inhabitants flee, and access to electricity, food, water, and medicine are severed, the team (literally the only international journalists left) struggle to cover war atrocities and to transmit their footage out. Eventually surrounded by Russian soldiers, they shelter in a hospital, unsure of how they’ll escape.
Offering a window into the practices of conflict zone with an unflinching, anguishing account of the 20 days these journalists spent covering Mariupol, it is their footage that not only documents death, destruction, corpses in the streets and mass graves. Bombings of apartment buildings and a maternity ward where doctors despair over the children they couldn’t save will crack you heart in pieces. Witnessing so much death, Chernov wonders how capturing any more could make a difference, but residents implore them to let the world bear witness. They say “show this to Putin…show this child’s dying eyes and these crying doctors.”
As Americans, we have become comfortable and some honestly believe something of this nature couldn’t possibly happen to one of the richest nations in the world. But, as long as we have people in power whose egos and incessant greed come before the sanctity of human lives the whole will continue to go to hell.
20 Days at Marioupol is shocking, enlightening and a blatantly accurate cinematic phot album of a country torn apart from its seams. Children who will never grow old and parents who will never cease to grieve. Kudos to Mstyslav Chernov, Evgeniy Maloletka and Vasilisa Stepanenko for their fearless and dogmatic filmmaking so that the world now sees the truth. The question is – what do we do with it? Do we suppress it or make moves to make a difference. Everyone has a choice – what’s yours.