Mariupol 2, a film by Mantas Kvedaravičius, won the Best Documentary Film award at the European Film Awards in Reykjavik on Saturday.

The legacy of the director who was killed in Ukraine is now more important than ever–Mariupol 2 revealed to the world everyday life of Ukrainians in its debut at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, where it was awarded with the Special Documentary Film Award. “For a very radical, courageous, artistic and existential work, Mariupol 2,” said the jury.

“You know what was absolutely incredible in Mariupol? Nobody was afraid of death, even though they thought they were. Death was already there, and everyone wanted to die in a meaningful way. People helped each other even at the risk of their lives. They smoked outside and talked even when bombs were falling. <…> This was life there,” reads the film’s synopsis.

After the premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, Lee Marshall, a critic at the Screendaily blog, described the film as “a radically different documentary”, where “the knowledge of being trapped and the anticipation becomes a story and turns into a viewing experience”. “We can apply Hannah Arendt’s famous phrase by calling what we are delving into ‘the banality of war’, to see how everyday life is lived under impossible conditions,” wrote Marshall. Owen Gleiberman called Mariupol 2 “a true document of the war in Ukraine.” “You see the small events and you feel them – life, as it was lived during the war, is something you don’t see on CNN,” wrote Variety.

The main producers of Mariupol 2 are the Lithuanian production companies Extimacy Film and Studio Uljana Kim, and the production companies that were involved in the production of Kvedaravičius’ previous film Mariupol–Easy Riders Films (producer Nadia Turincev, France) and Twenty Twenty Vision (Germany, producer Thanassis Karathanos).

Lithuanian cinema was also recognised in the short film category: the film Techno, mama (produced by Viktorija Seniut), directed by Sauliaus Baradinskas, was nominated among the other four short film contenders.

In the documentary category, Kvedaravičius’ film was up against four competitors: A House Made of Splinters (Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Ukraine), Girl Gang (Switzerland), The Balcony Movie (Poland) and The March on Rome (Italy).

Before this occasion, Lithuania had received the Best Documentary Award only once. Thirty years ago, in 1992, the jury of the European Film Awards was impressed with Audrius Stonys’ film Earth of the Blind.

The European Film Awards – also known as the European Oscars – were launched in 1988 and are aimed at recognising the best European films and filmmakers. The nominees are voted for, and the best films, actors and directors are selected by the 3,800-member European Film Academy.

More information is available here.

Photo credit: ELTA.

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