United Nations to Screen Ukrainian War Documentary ’20 Days in Mariupol’ From ‘Frontline’ and the AP

Award-winning Ukrainian war documentary “20 Days in Mariupol” will receive a special screening before the start of the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, where President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is scheduled to speak in person to the assembly for the first time.

The documentary, produced by the Associated Press and the PBS series “Frontline,” features video footage taken by AP journalist Mstyslav Chernov and his colleagues during Russia’s invasion of the port city at the start of the war in February 2022.

The screening, presented by the U.S. and Britain, documents the bitter attack in Mariupol, which ended on May 20, 2022 after thousands of Mariupol residents had been killed and the city was left in ruins.

AP Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Julie Pace called the documentary “a testament to the power and impact of eyewitness journalism.” Without it, she said, ‘the world would not have known the atrocities that took place.”

“To have the film screened at the United Nations as the U.N. General Assembly gets underway underscores the importance of fact-based journalism on a global scale,” Pace told the AP.

UK Ambassador Barbara Woodward said that the screening at U.N. headquarters is important because “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine threatens what the U.N. stands for: an international order where the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries is fundamental.”

The film documents fighting in the streets where pregnant women, children and thousands of innocent bystanders were killed the May 2022 siege, which after a group of outgunned Ukrainian fighters at surrendered at the Azovstal steel plant.

The United States and Britain have invited ambassadors and journalists to attend a special screening of the documentary.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., told the AP that the film is “a living document of the horrors of (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s war of aggression.”

“We must bear witness to these atrocities and reaffirm our commitment to justice and peace in Ukraine,” she said.

The documentary was awarded the Sundance Global Audience Award for Best Documentary. Chernov and an AP team of photographers and producers also received a Pulitzer Price for their reporting in Mariupol.

“It’s just a lens through which we see the stories of Mariupol’s residents, the death, their suffering the destruction of their homes,” Chernov said. “At the same time, I felt that I can do it. I’m allowed to do it because I’m part of the community. I was born in eastern Ukraine and (a) photographer who worked with me was born in the city which is right next to Mariupol, which got occupied. So this is our story too.”

Raney Aronson-Rath, editor-in-chief and executive producer of “Frontline,” said it is “deeply meaningful” to show the documentary at the UN, were the audience will be able to “bear witness to the atrocities that Ukrainians have endured.”

The film is set for special screenings at the Ukrainian Film Festival in London, the Macao International Documentary Festival in China, and the Lunenburg Documentary Fest in Nova Scotia, Canada.

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