There is no comfort when watching 20 Days in Mariupol, but it's the bitter pill we must all swallow to remind ourselves of what people are going through every day in Ukraine. Chernov's account is but a snippet of the war and should galvanize people into action.
20 Days in Mariupol gives you a sense of life during wartime that isn’t an abstraction, some distant thing happening to people thousands of miles away. The intimate feeling of what it’s like to have your country invaded, your living spaces demolished, and your closest family members killed before your eyes is palpable, and also gut-wrenching.
Structured by onscreen markers of the days passed, this nonfiction feature may not have a simple narrative arc, but the director’s unpretentious first-person narration and the intensity of the war-crimes evidence compiled make it riveting nonetheless.
What we can do, like these journalists, is bear witness to the pain in the hope that it transforms into an urgent, rallying cry, and address our universal capacity to connect with the pain and suffering of others.