This Ukrainian Director Gave A Moving Speech After He Won An Oscar For His Documentary On Russia’s Invasion

"I’m honored, but I will probably be the first director on this stage to say I wish I’d never made this film."

A Ukrainian documentary – “20 Days In Mariupol” – shot by a Ukrainian journalist in the first days of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has won the Oscar for Best Documentary at the 96th Academy Awards held in Los Angeles on Sunday March 10.

Directed by Mstyslav Chernov, who was working for AP at the time, “20 Days in Mariupol” offers a chilling firsthand account of the initial days of Russia’s invasion in 2022, showing its relentless aerial bombardment and gradual encirclement of the southern port city of Mariupol.

Chevron and his team had stayed behind to document the invasion, becoming the last journalists to leave the city.

They managed to leave by passing through multiple Russian checkpoints with the footage hidden under a car seat.

After three months of intense fighting that killed at least 25,000 civilians, Russia seized Mariupol and has been occupying it since May 2022.

This is the first time a Ukrainian film has won an Oscar.

“I’m honored, but I will probably be the first director on this stage to say I wish I’d never made this film,” Chernov said in his acceptance speech.

“I wish to be able to exchange this for Russia never attacking Ukraine or invading our cities. I wish to be able to exchange this for Russia not killing 10,000 of my fellow Ukrainians,” he added.

Chernov also said that he wishes to exchange the honor for the release of hostages and civilians held in Russian jails.

“But I cannot change the history. I cannot change the past,” he said. “But… 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’ve given their lives will never be forgotten, because cinema forms memories and memories form history.”

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on X, formerly Twitter, that the documentary “shows the truth about Russia’s war crimes.”

“The horrors of Mariupol must never be forgotten. The entire world must see and remember what the inhumane Russian invasion brought to our people,” Zelenskyy wrote, adding that the award was significant for the entire country. 

He added the unknown death toll in Mariupol, pointing out that satellite images revealed thousands and thousands of graves.

Dmytro Lubinets, Ukraine’s human rights commissioner, also hailed the documentary for revealing the truth about Russia’s crimes to the entire world.  

He wrote in a post on Telegram, “Justice always prevails.”

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