Cannes premieres ‘Mariupolis 2’ documentary by slain Lithuanian director

May 20, 2022 - 12:54 PM
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The 75th Cannes Film Festival - Film "Mariupolis 2" presented as part of Special Screenings - Cannes, France, May 19, 2022. Producer Nadia Turincev, co-director Hanna Bilobrova and editor Dounia Sichov attend an interview with Reuters. (Reuters/Eric Gaillard)

 “Mariupolis 2,” a documentary showing a close-up view of life under bombardment in Ukraine, debuted at the Cannes Film Festival Thursday with an emotional tribute to slain director Mantas Kvedaravicius by his fiancée.

“It’s an honor to present Mantas’ recent work. It’s great the festival honors his legacy and his work as a filmmaker and anthropologist,” said Hanna Bilobrova, fighting back tears.

Kvedaravicius, 45, was killed in April in Mariupol, where he was filming with Bilobrova, who co-directed the project.

“We were determined to show it,” said festival President Thierry Fremaux, noting the organizers were “very firm” in opposing the war.

Fremaux pointed to a badge on his chest that carried an anti-war message, saying, “I think everyone shares this position, except [Vladimir] Putin.”

The war has loomed over the festival, which has banned official Russian delegations and invited Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to address the opening ceremony live from Kyiv.

The documentary shows life in a Mariupol neighborhood under siege, with constant explosions and gunfire that at times sound at close range.

Viewers are taken inside a Methodist church, where dozens of people have taken refuge, including the elderly and children. Men sweep rubble in the church yard and scavenge for a generator. Seen from the broken windows of bombed out buildings, the skyline is lined with columns of smoke at dusk and dotted with distant fires.

“It’s like a community-created family,” Bilobrova told Reuters after the screening, noting the risks they had to take to gather materials.

“They’re like, if they’re going to die, they try to do something great for the community.”

—Reporting by Mimosa Spencer; Editing by Richard Chang