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20 Days In Mariupol: Mstyslav Chernov On Winning Ukraine’s First Oscar

Ukrainian director Mstyslav Chernov, along with American producers Raney Aronson-Rath and Michelle Mizner, took home the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature for their film “20 Days In Mariupol”. The documentary vividly recounts Chernov’s experiences alongside colleagues from the Associated Press during the Russian invasion of Mariupol, Ukraine.

“This is the first Oscar in Ukrainian history, and I’m honored,” Chernov said in a powerful acceptance speech to a standing ovation.

“But probably I will be the first director on this stage who will say I wish I never made this film. I wish to be able to exchange this to Russia never attacking Ukraine, never occupying our cities … but I cannot change history. Cannot change the past.”

During his acceptance speech at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, Chernov expressed mixed emotions about the film’s creation, stating his deep wish for a different reality amidst the celebration. He passionately lamented the loss of Ukrainian lives and pleaded for an end to the conflict, emphasizing the need to remember the victims and honor their sacrifice.

Chernov’s heartfelt plea for peace extended to a global audience as he urged recognition of the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Ukraine, stressing the importance of solidarity over political expediency.

Closing with the rallying cry “Slava Ukraini” (Glory to Ukraine), Chernov underscored the resilience of the Ukrainian people in the face of adversity. His words resonated with the somber anniversary of the Mariupol maternity hospital bombing, a tragic symbol of the war’s brutality.

Human Rights Watch reported in February that at least 8,000 people lost their lives due to fighting or war-related causes during the siege, marking one of the largest battles in the nearly two-year conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

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