Mariupol: The People’s Story
Top Hat Productions / Hayloft Productions (BBC Select)
A woman tearfully recalls her time spent in a bunker with her newborn away from her husband. Another mourns the loss of the vibrancy of Mariupol’s urban life as its everyday hum was replaced by thundering booms from shell attacks. Yet another furiously remembers the fear she felt when she decided to leave the city and was faced with Russian troops aiming guns directly at her. True to the documentary film’s title, the testimonials featured in Mariupol: The People’s Story collectively chronicle the way a once-bustling European center was ravaged in a matter of weeks as Russian forces gained ground and hoped to throttle the Ukrainian city’s services. Composed almost entirely of footage shot by residents who stayed and who bore the brunt of such attacks—with heartbreaking images of shelled buildings and abandoned corpses on the streets—Robin Barnwell’s documentary is an important assemblage of what was one of the most harrowing episodes in the still raging war taking place on Ukrainian soil. For offering an unwavering on-the-ground look at the craven destruction of Mariupol at the hands of the Russian military in the early days of the war as well as the gritty resilience showcased by the residents of the city in the wake of increasingly brazen attacks, Mariupol: The People’s Story earns a Peabody.