Ukraine wins its first-ever Oscar in history

March 11,2024 1678
Ukraine wins its first-ever Oscar in history

A Ukrainian film has become a laureate of the Oscar for the first time. The American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognized 20 Days in Mariupol by director Mstyslav Chernov as the best full-length documentary film. The decision was announced at the 96th Academy Awards ceremony.

This is the first Oscar in Ukrainian history. And I’m honored. But probably I will be the first director on this stage who will say I wish I had never made this film. I wish to be able to exchange this for Russia never attacking Ukraine, never occupying our cities. I wish to give all the recognition to Russians not killing tens of thousands of my fellow Ukrainians. I wish for them to release all the hostages, all the soldiers who are protecting their lands, all the civilians who are now in their jails. But I cannot change the history. I cannot change the past. But. We altogether: you. I’m calling on you, some of the most talented people in the world. We can make sure that the history record is set straight and that the truth will prevail and that the people of Mariupol and those who have given their lives will never be forgotten, because cinema forms memories, and memories form history. Thank you all. Thanks to Ukraine. Slava Ukraini,” Chernov stated in his speech after receiving the award.

Evgeniy Maloletka, from left, Vasilisa Stepanenko, Michelle Mizner, Mstyslav Chernov, Raney Aronson-Rath and Derl McCrudden.

Together with Mstyslav Chernov, photojournalist Evgeniy Maloletka and producer Vasilisa Stepanenko took the stage. The three journalists were earlier awarded the Pulitzer Prize for their work in the besieged Mariupol in 2022, becoming the last journalists to cover the beginning of Russia’s destruction of Mariupol.

20 Days in Mariupol is a documentary about the Russian attack on Mariupol on February 24, 2022. In March 2022, Mstyslav Chernov, together with photographer Evgeniy Maloletka and producer and journalist Vasilisa Stepanenko, were in Mariupol, where for 20 days they filmed destruction, shelling, the work of doctors, and numerous victims among civilians.

“The film shows the beginning of a full-scale invasion, the bombing of a maternity hospital and the rescue of the author of the film and his colleagues from the Associated Press from a city surrounded by Russian troops,” the Ukrainian Film Academy said.

Earlier, 20 Days in Mariupol also won the “Best Documentary” category at the British BAFTA Film Awards. The film was released on August 31 last year and became the highest-grossing documentary film in Ukraine.

Cover: Patrick T, Fallon/AFP via Getty Images; AP Photo/John Locher