In Oscars speech, '20 Days in Mariupol' director says he wishes he 'never' had to make film


The director behind “20 Days in Mariupol” is marking the documentary’s Oscar win with a solemn speech, saying he wishes he “never” had to make the film about Russia’s war against Ukraine.

“This is the first Oscar in the Ukrainian history,” Mstyslav Chernov, the film’s director and a war correspondent, said as he accepted the award in the Best Documentary Feature category at the 96th annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday.

“But probably I will be the first director on this stage who will say I wish I’d never made this film. I wish to be able to exchange this to Russia never attacking Ukraine, never occupying our cities,” Chernov said to applause.

“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,” Chernov said of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which began in February 2022. The movie details the early days of the war in the Ukrainian city.

“But I cannot change the history. I cannot change the past,” Chernov said.

The director told the audience that all together, “We can make sure that the history record is set straight and that the truth will prevail.”

“The people of Mariupol and those who have given their lives will never be forgotten because cinema forms memories and memories form history,” he said.

The documentary’s win comes just days after Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Congress’s failure to secure more aid for Ukraine in its war against Russia is “nothing short of a gift” for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Yellen called on House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) to pass the Senate’s $95 billion foreign aid package, which includes $60 billion for Ukraine.

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