The images emerging from the Ukrainian city of Mariupol have horrified the world. Released in 2016, Lithuanian director Mantas Kvedaravičius’s film captures his adopted home city as it was, set against the backdrop of an earlier stage in the Russian onslaught – and this haunting time capsule is made even more poignant by the death this month of its director, killed by Russian forces while fleeing the city on 2 April 2022.
Mariupolis is less a film about war than a film about trying to live a normal life while war rages behind you. Bus drivers plan shifts; a cobbler repairs shoes; a steel mill continues making the stuff of industry; the conflict is largely off-screen.
‘[The] basic premise … is that aesthetics and politics are intrinsically intertwined, [and] any choice within cinematic language is already a claim. Yet it considers that long-term cinematic observation of the minutiae of everyday life could precisely unravel the complex historicity and cultural forces at work in a transformation of the polity,’ said Kvedaravičius.
With Kvedaravičius’s tragic death, that task of long-term cinematic observation now falls to others.
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