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Director Killed in Ukraine’s ‘Mariupolis 2’ Debuts at Cannes


Depicting life in the beleaguered port city in southern Ukraine, Mariupolis 2 rocked the Cannes Film Festival.

The rare documentary that serves as the last testament to the late Mantas Kvedaravičius chronicles the survivors of Mariupol seeking refuge among the ruins.

The Lithuanian director was killed on April 2 while filming the project. He was arrested by Russian soldiers as he attempted to leave town and was allegedly murdered.

The film was completed by co-director and Kvedaravičius’ fiancée, Hanna Bilobrova, in record time. He was added to the contest as a late entry to celebrate his life ahead of a special screening last Thursday.

However, a dramatic air show conducted by the French Air Force at the festival promoting the action feature Top Gun: Maverick became too much for Bilobrova, still raw about Kvedaravičius’ death, and served as a reminder bitter about the realities of war.

Speaking in Cannes, the filmmaker said: “We were standing on the balcony yesterday and we heard planes flying so we almost lay down but the bombs didn’t follow. And that other plane…I I started crying.”

“A colleague came down to ask what was going on and (for someone) to explain,” Bilobrova said.

“We are used to seeing war as fiction. Even on television news, it is presented to us as fiction. It is a representation. Nobody really shows us the people who live under war.”

Mantas Kvedaravičius shot two more documentaries on Mariupol in 2014 and 2015, when the city was already targeted by DNR separatists after Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the invasion of Donbass.

The final film following the first two films has no music, no voiceover, and moves seamlessly between long shots of rubble and images of daily life.

The 45-year-old man’s camera follows the group entrenched in its basement, capturing testimonies or reflections of pre-war life.

“I hope people will think for themselves while watching this movie and make their own decision and make up their own mind about what’s important,” Bilovrova said.

Fred Ponsard, reporter for Euronews live from the festival, declared that the event “has always had this vocation of being in contact with burning news and of offering an exceptional platform to filmmakers who fight for peace and human rights in the world”.

“To watch Mariupolis 2 is to experience the war from within, the fear of bombings and the chaos at the level of men and women who have lost everything and even their lives like the director Mantas Kvedaravičius, killed by the Russian army on April 2, 2022, in Mariupol in Ukraine,” Ponsard said.

euronews Gt

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