Two new documentaries from Ukrainian directors,
20 Days In Mariupol
, about Russia's invasion of their country and the disinformation caused by Kremlin propaganda, are in the spotlight at the American Sundance festival this week.
20 Days In Mariupol
, which premiered Friday night, chronicles the arrival of conflict last year in a city that became the scene of one of the bloodiest battles of the war.
The images were taken by journalists during the siege of Mariupol.
Director Mstyslav Chernov, a journalist who filmed the port city during the advance of Russian troops in February and March 2021, told AFP he hopes the release of his footage as a documentary "
hits more deeply
", and harder
viewers than short news videos.
The documentary shows how Mstyslav Chernov risked his life to report footage of a Russian strike on a maternity hospital that sparked outrage across the world.
It also recounts the director and his team's attempts to flee the city in order to transmit their shocking images, even as Russian officials tried to paint the event as a "
using Ukrainian actors.
was the first glimpse of the differences between the narrative offered by Russia on this war, and the reality
”, asserted Mstyslav Chernov.
Moscow's use of disinformation is also a central theme of
, which premieres on Sunday.
The documentary tells the story of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which was shot down in 2014 by separatists in eastern Ukraine, and how that tragedy served as a harbinger of today's larger-scale conflict.
It takes its name from the shrapnel in the Russian-made BUK missiles that hit the airliner flying between Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur, killing 298 people.
uses both news and social media footage with audio clips of intercepted military communications, to show how the Russian response has shifted from claiming separatists shot down a Ukrainian military plane to claiming that Kiev was responsible for the deaths of these civilians.
Director Roman Liubyi says he wanted to remain "
" in his approach and avoid giving in to anger in the editing, as Russian propaganda is "
built around emotional impact
A third film, fiction this time,
, will receive a new screening at Sundance, after winning the world achievement award at the 2022 edition of this independent film festival held each year in Park City, in the mountains. of Utah (western United States).
The film tells the story of a family living on the border between Russia and Ukraine when the conflict broke out in 2014.
For Roman Liubyi, the strong Ukrainian presence at Sundance can only strengthen the cinematic aura of the country at the 'foreigner.
But the director of
warns that "
the much harder question is how to accomplish something here and now for the country, for its defense
He hopes to use the publicity generated by Sundance to lead a fundraiser aimed at financing a reconnaissance drone for director friends currently engaged in the Ukrainian army.
Roman Liubyi used his exposure at Sundance to make the following comment at the same time Kiev lamented Western "
" over heavy tank deliveries: "
I would like to use this moment to say as a Ukrainian citizen that we are truly grateful to the international community for their help in our defence.
But is that enough weapons?
Probably, unfortunately, this is still not enough
The director will present his documentary at the Berlin Film Festival next month.
However, he only publicly regretted that according to him "
the international public is growing weary of this subject.
It is hard to maintain the flame, this interest... (but) this fight is for our existence