AP, Frontline doc ‘20 Days in Mariupol’ wins Sundance audience award


The visceral feature film “20 Days in Mariupol” by The Associated Press and Frontline (PBS) has been awarded the Sundance Film Festival’s World Cinema Documentary Competition Audience Award.

The film, which made its world premiere at Sundance last week, offers a first-person view of the early days of Russia’s invasion of the port city of Mariupol, Ukraine. It is told through the perspective of Ukrainian-born director and AP video journalist Mstyslav Chernov.

“I want to thank everyone who believed in us — the AP, Frontline, Sundance and all the audiences who didn't turn away from this film,” Chernov said while accepting the award. “This is not an achievement. This is a privilege for me as a director, for us as a team, and for all Ukrainians. People care and the whole world will watch them fight.” 

Chernov and his colleagues, photographer Evgeniy Maloletka and field producer Vasilisa Stepanenko, were the only remaining international reporters in Mariupol as Russian troops attacked the city. Together they documented what would become defining images of the war: dying children, mass graves, the bombing of a maternity hospital, and more.

Produced and edited by Frontline's Michelle Mizner, “20 Days in Mariupol” draws on Chernov’s daily news dispatches and personal footage of his own country at war. The result is a raw and haunting account of a journalist risking his life to share the truth of the conflict with the world.

“We’re so proud of Mstyslav, Michelle and the entire ‘20 Days in Mariupol’ team. This audience award reflects the incredible impact this documentary has had on viewers thus far, and the gravity of this essential, on-the-ground reporting in Ukraine,” says Raney Aronson-Rath, editor-in-chief and executive producer of Frontline. “We share this honor with our colleagues at The Associated Press, and with GBH, CPB and PBS.”

“We are thrilled that ‘20 Days in Mariupol’ was so well received by audiences. It can be difficult to watch the realities of war, but it's essential for the world to see the facts as they unfolded,” said AP Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Julie Pace. “This film is a testament to the power and importance of eyewitness journalism."

Called a “harrowingly immediate look at a city under siege” by Variety, “haunting and riveting“ by the Los Angeles Times, and “one of the most important movies of Sundance” by RogerEbert.com, the documentary made its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on Friday, Jan. 20.

“20 Days in Mariupol” is part of a larger editorial collaboration between Frontline and AP examining Russia’s war in Ukraine. 

The film will be distributed by PBS Distribution.


FRONTLINE, U.S. television’s longest running investigative documentary series, explores the issues of our times through powerful storytelling. FRONTLINE has won every major journalism and broadcasting award, including 104 Emmy Awards and 28 Peabody Awards. Visit pbs.org/frontline and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube to learn more. FRONTLINE is produced at GBH in Boston and is broadcast nationwide on PBS. Funding for FRONTLINE is provided through the support of PBS viewers and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Additional support for FRONTLINE is provided by the Abrams Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Park Foundation, the Heising-Simons Foundation, and the FRONTLINE Journalism Fund, with major support from Jon and Jo Ann Hagler on behalf of the Jon L. Hagler Foundation, and additional support from Koo and Patricia Yuen.

About AP:

The Associated Press is an independent global news organization dedicated to factual reporting. Founded in 1846, AP today remains the most trusted source of fast, accurate, unbiased news in all formats and the essential provider of the technology and services vital to the news business. More than half the world’s population sees AP journalism every day. Online: www.ap.org 


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