Oscars: Ukraine Selects Sundance War Doc ‘20 Days In Mariupol’ For Best International Film Race

Ukraine has selected the Sundance competition title 20 Days In Mariupol, from journalist-turned-filmmaker Mstyslav Chernov, as its entry for the Best International Feature Film category at the 2024 Oscars.

The film was chosen by the Ukrainian Oscar Committee, headed by Ukrainian film director Valentin Vasyanovych. Alongside 20 Days In Mariupol, shortlisted films included Iron Butterflies by Roman Lyuboy, Pamfir by Dmytro Suholytky-Sobchuk, Terikony by Taras Tomenkom, and SHTTL by Adrien Walter.

At Sundance, 20 Days In Mariupol was awarded the Audience Award for World Cinema Documentary. Since then, the doc has picked up a series of prizes across the festival circuit, including Sheffield DocFest’s Tim Hetherington Award, Best Film at DocuDays, Best Director at DocEdge, and filmmakers Chernov, Vasilisa Stepanenko, Evgeniy Maloletka, and Lori Hinnant won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service reporting for their work in Mariupol.

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A native Ukrainian and Associated Press journalist, 20 Days In Mariupol marks Chernov’s documentary feature debut. The pic offers a first-person account of the 20 days he and his AP colleagues Maloletka and Stepanenko spent documenting Russia’s invasion of Mariupol, Ukraine. The doc captures shocking images of Russian troops targeting civilians, killing children, the elderly, and thousands of others. Among the atrocities was the Russian bombing of a maternity hospital.

The film also shows the challenges Chernov faced trying to upload the footage he and his colleagues were taking. Sometimes he could use a satellite phone; other times Ukrainian military officials would guide him to one of the few places in Mariupol still with an internet connection.

The film is a co-production between The Associated Press and FRONTLINE. Dogwoof is handling all sales on the pic, excluding North America, where PBS Distribution has acquired rights.

Here’s the list of category submissions so far:

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