Ukraine’s Oscar Nominee Is 20 Days in Mariupol
At a meeting on 18 September, the Ukrainian Oscar Committee chose the film that will represent Ukraine among the contenders for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Oscar nomination in the Best International Feature Film category.
It is reported on Facebook page of the committee.
It is the film 20 Days in Mariupol by Ukrainian journalist and photographer Mstyslav Chernov. Together with Chernov, the film was created by photographer Yevhen Malolietka and producer Vasilisa Stepanenko. The film shows the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, the bombing of the maternity hospital and the rescue of the author and his colleagues from the Associated Press from the city surrounded by Russian troops.
The film was selected by a vote of the members of the Ukrainian Oscar Committee, chaired by Valentyn Vasyanovych.
According to Chernov, on the day the drama theatre with hundreds of people inside was bombed by Russians, he knew that no one was there to document it. It was then that Chernov decided he wanted to do something more. During his stay in Mariupol, he shot about 30 hours of video. But the poor - and sometimes non-existent - internet connection made it difficult to transfer any files. In total, he estimates that only about 40 minutes of this footage was successfully released.
"The ones that made it through were very important. They got to the Associated Press and then to thousands of news outlets," Chernov said.
"However, I had much more... I thought I had to do something more with those 30 hours of video to tell a bigger story and more context to show an audience of this magnitude."
But out of these 30 hours, the author chose only 95 minutes.
"We chose the most important moments that would put the viewer in the centre of the action, so that the viewer could feel what it was like to be under siege. We edited and cried," says Chernov.
The film is based on the article "20 Days in Mariupol", which the journalist wrote after leaving the city.
"It consists of my notes that I took in Mariupol. But the format - to tell the story of the city as the journalist saw it - was not the first choice. We tried several versions during the editing process, how to combine all the stories into a single narrative, how to show the consistent destruction of the city, how it falls into the abyss and dies."
Earlier, Chernov's film won the DOCU/Ukraine national feature competition at the 20th Docudays UA International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival.
The film also won awards at the Cleveland International Film Festival (USA), DocAviv (Israel), DocEdge (New Zealand), Cinema for Peace (Germany), Royal Television Society (UK) and the Tim Hetherington Special Award at the Sheffield DocFest 2023 in the UK.
The film had its world premiere at the Sundance Independent Film Festival in the United States, where it won the Audience Award.
Five films took part in the national selection: 20 Days in Mariupol by Mstyslav Chernov, Iron Butterflies by Roman Liubyi, Pamphyr by Dmytro Sukholytkyi-Sobchuk, Spoilheaps by Taras Tomenko, and STTL by Adrien Walter.