Today, we talk to the director of the acclaimed documentary 20 Days in Mariupol, Mstyslav Chernov. Chernov’s film is an extraordinary chronicle of Russia’s attack on one of Ukraine’s largest cities in its first days under siege. The city is now destroyed. Mstyslav’s team of journalists were the only press left in the city during those 20 days: the film documents the harrowing experience of residents, from hospital workers to shop owners. It has since won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 2023, and it is now up for best documentary at the Oscars and the Baftas. Mstyslav joins Lilah to discuss the documentary, his experience making it, and his hopes for Ukraine.


We love hearing from you. Lilah is on Instagram @lilahrap and we’re on X @lifeandartpod. You can email us at We are grateful for reviews, on Apple, Spotify, etc.


Links (all FT links get you past the paywall):

20 Days in Mariupol is available to stream on multiple platforms, including Dogwoof On Demand, Amazon Prime and PBS. The full documentary is also on YouTube:

– The FT’s 5-star review of 20 Days in Mariupol:

– An FT profile of a number of Ukrainian documentarians, including Mstyslav, Maciek Hamela (In The Rearview) and Karim Amer (Defiant):

– You can follow Mstyslav on Instagram @mstyslav.chernov

– His novel is called The Dream Time (2023)


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Original music by Metaphor Music. Mixing and sound design by Breen Turner, McMurran and Sam Giovinco.

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