/ 6 March 2024

Ukraine embassy in SA hosts historic documentary screening 

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Photo: Vlada and Kostiantyn Liberov

Photojournalist Mstyslav Chernov shares the siege of Mariupol with the world 

The Embassy of Ukraine in partnership with other diplomatic missions shared the screening of the film 20 Days in Mariupol on 28 February 2024 at the Javett Art Centre auditorium in Pretoria. Ukrainian Ambassador to South Africa Liubov Abravitova welcomed members of the Diplomatic Corp and friends to the symbolic screening of the movie. 

One year on, Ukraine was hoping to celebrate a military victory, and also the victory of truth, solidarity and principles. However this is not the case; 28 February marks 735 days since Ukraine has stood strong, stood united and never given up. 

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Ukrainian Ambassador to South Africa Liubov Abravitova.

The Embassy of Ukraine in Pretoria thanked the missions that made it possible for them to withstand opposition propaganda in South Africa and southern Africa, and for creating the narrative of Ukrainian heroes and the values that Ukraine is protecting. The embassies that assisted in making the screening of this film possible were the Embassy of the United States of America, the delegation of the European Union, the Embassy of Norway, the Embassy of France, the Embassy of Finland, the Embassy of Poland, the Embassy of Lithuania, the High Commission of Great Britain and the Embassy of Sweden. 

Addressing guests, Abravitova said: “There is no such thing as neutrality, or non violence when massive [abuse of] human rights is happening, when international law is abandoned.” 

The film is about the city of Mariupol, a beautiful city on the north coast of the Sea of Azov that was renowned for its industrial hub. It was challenged by and fell to Moscow, and has become an unfortunate symbol of the atrocities that Russia committed in the city: between March and May 2022, according to satellite images, photographs, videos and investigations, more than 10 000 people were killed and buried in Mariupol. 

The documentary has been awarded the equivalent of an Oscar in Great Britain and is nominated for an Oscar on 11 March 2024. The film is about the 20 days that photojournalist Mstyslav Chernov spent with his colleagues in the besieged city of Mariupol. The team of journalists struggled to continue their work of documenting the acts of war. As the only international reporters left in the city, it became increasingly difficult to share their daily news and footage with the rest of the world. 

The impactful documentary made its world premiere in January 2023 at the Sundance Film Festival. 

Glory to Ukraine and glory to the heroes of Mariupol.

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The screening of the documentary at the Javett Art Centre auditorium in Pretoria.