State Department Screens AP-PBS Documentary on Ukraine Conflict Shortly After 2-Year Mark of Russia’s Invasion

The U.S. State Department recently organized a screening for the acclaimed Associated Press-PBS “Frontline” documentary titled “20 Days in Mariupol,” focusing on the Ukraine conflict.

People watch a screening of “20 Days in Mariupol” at the State Department in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

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The U.S. State Department, on Tuesday, organized a screening of the acclaimed Associated Press-PBS “Frontline” documentary titled “20 Days in Mariupol,” following Ukraine’s commemoration of the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion. Elizabeth Allen, under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, highlighted the film’s role in presenting the realities of the conflict and countering disinformation campaigns aimed at undermining Ukraine’s sovereignty. The State Department plans to screen the documentary in over 30 countries worldwide.

During the screening, attended by diplomats from various foreign embassies in Washington, Allen emphasized the significance of cultural diplomacy in national security strategy. The event occurred amidst growing uncertainty in Congress regarding continued U.S. aid for Ukraine and mounting challenges faced by Ukrainian forces on the frontline, including ammunition shortages.

Although the AP did not sponsor the event, journalist and filmmaker Mstyslav Chernov attended the screening and participated in a panel discussion afterward. Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S., Oksana Markarova, urged viewers to recognize the film as a poignant reminder of the atrocities committed by Russian forces and to humanize the victims of the conflict.

The documentary, recognized with awards at the British Academy Film Awards and the Directors Guild Awards, documents the siege of Mariupol by Russian forces in early 2022. Chernov and his team captured the devastating impact on civilians during their three-week stay in the city, risking their lives to expose the grim realities of the war.

Despite the risks faced by journalists in conflict zones, the State Department sees the screening as part of a broader effort to promote peace and democracy globally through film. Through initiatives like the Film Diplomacy Screening Series, the Department aims to showcase Oscar-nominated international films to advance these diplomatic goals.

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