When Vladimir Putin announced a ‘special military operation’ on 24 February 2022, Associated Press journalists Mystlav Chernov, Vasilisa Stepanenko, and Evgeniy Maloletka headed immediately to Mariupol, the eastern Ukrainian city just 60 kilometers from the Russian border. They arrived on quiet streets just before the first bombs fell. No one would have believed the horror to come, and without their courageous reportage, no one could have. They were the only international reporters at the siege to document Russia’s actions. The images are extreme – we see children killed and a maternity hospital destroyed. ‘This is painful to watch. But it must be painful to watch,’ Chernov says. Such graphic content becomes immediately understandable as we are shown clips from Russian television cut into the real-time horrors, which claim that each foreign report is ‘fully staged’ fake news. Winner of the Sundance Audience Award for World Cinema Documentary, this devastating war diary is required viewing.
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