Ukraine House in Denmark

20 Days in Mariupol

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“Everyone must watch this film so as to prevent Russia from creating Mariupols everywhere”: Oscar-winning "20 Days in Mariupol Screening" in Denmark.

The Oscar-winning documentary“20 Days in Mariupol”, directed by Mstyslav Chernov, was screened in Denmark at Nordisk Biografer Palads to an audience of 300 people. The screening was co-organised by the U.S. Embassy in Denmark, the Ukrainian Embassy in Denmark, and the Ukraine House in Denmark, in cooperation with Nordisk Film.

Nataliya Popovych, chairperson of Ukraine House in Denmark, introduced the screening with compelling remarks about the documentary's critical role in capturing war crimes. She highlighted the perilous efforts undertaken by the film's crew to safely extract the footage from the territories currently occupied by Russia. “Nothing can prepare you for the reality of war. In the same way, nothing can fully prepare you for viewing this film. Even if you have seen Russia's genocidal war against Ukraine in photos or short TV clips, it is a completely unfreezing experience to be confronted with it in '20 Days in Mariupol',” Nataliia explained the documentary's powerful impact in understanding the siege of Mariupol.

The siege of Mariupol started on February 24th 2022 and lasted till May 20th when Azovstal soldiers who courageously defended the city were ordered to surrender and go into captivity.

The siege led to heavy casualties among the 700,000 inhabitants of the city who were left without heat, on the brink of freezing to death, as the temperature at the time often fell below 0 °C (32 °F) and as supplies such as food, gas, and electricity were cut off. Numerous efforts to evacuate the civilian population failed as the Russian army mined the roads allocated for humanitarian corridors. According to the deputy city mayor of Mariupol, Sergiy Orlov, 80 to 90% of the city was destroyed due to shelling.

The U.S. Ambassador to Denmark, Alan Leventhal, underscored the importance of continued financial and military support for Ukraine in his opening remarks, reaffirming the United States' commitment to Ukraine amidst the ongoing Russian aggression.  Following him, the Ukrainian Ambassador to Denmark Andrii Yanevskyi provided the context on Mariupol's history, from its foundation by Ukrainian Cossacks to its vibrant multiculturalism and economic prosperity prior to the 2022 invasion. He expressed gratitude towards the attendees for their willingness to confront the challenging content of "20 Days in Mariupol."

The screening opened with a clip of Mstyslav Chernov's Oscar acceptance speech transitioning from the shining red-carpet of the awards ceremony to the harsh reality of the first days of Mariupol’s siege.  The deeply moving film brought many in the audience to tears through the harrowing stories of children, grieving families, and frontline medical staff captured during the documentary's 20-day timeline. At one point in the movie, Mstyslav asked one of the doctors, “Russians say they do not target civilians. Is that true?”  Focused on the wounded woman he was treating, the doctor replied, “All people we have treated in the hospitals from the air raids were civilians. I didn’t see a single soldier.”  In another scene, Mstyslav asked a civilian woman hiding in a basement from an air raid, “Do you want Russia here?” She replied “No, definitely. I do not want Russia here. I want to live in Ukraine, only Ukraine.”

This screening of "20 Days in Mariupol" not only brought to light the stark realities of war but also underscored the importance of international solidarity with Ukraine. The event served as a powerful reminder of the enduring human spirit amidst conflict and the critical role of both journalists and documentary filmmaking in preserving and communicating truth to the global audience.

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