The Boston Baltic Film Festival ran in-person from Friday, 3/3 through Sunday, 3/5 at the Emerson Paramount Center, and will continue virtually through 3/19. Click here for the schedule and ticket info, and watch the site for Joshua Polanski’s continuing coverage!
“Also, I got gas poisoning,” one father says to his family, in a context where something so grim can be merely secondary information. That’s the world of Mariupol, a city in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine during the March 2022 Siege of Mariupol. It’s a world so engrossed in the war that director Mantas Kvedaravičius was captured and killed by the Russian fascists, leaving behind fiancée Hanna Bilobrova (a Ukrainian) to co-direct and finish Mariupolis 2, a sequel to their previous film about the ordinary lives of the city’s steelworkers and fishers. Kvedaravičius, a Lithuanian social anthropologist with a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge, leaves behind a documentary with very few comparisons in the history of the medium: a living, arguably unfinished record of the civilian first-hand experience of war.
According to reports from Bilobrova (via Reuters), Kvedaravičius went missing after trying to arrange for people to flee the city with them, and a few days later Russian soldiers led her to the dead body. “He was shot, not where he was found. There was no blood on the ground.” Lyudmyla Denisova, the Ukrainian human rights ombudswoman, adds to the story: “(Kvedaravičius) was taken prisoner by ‘rashists’ (‘Russian fascists’), who later shot him. The occupiers threw the director’s body out into the street.” Bilobrova, an inexperienced filmmaker, “managed to escape with the footage” and finished the documentary alongside the French actress and editor Dounia Sichov (who also edited 2022’s Return to Seoul). Kvedaravičius is honored with the main “director” credit.
Continue reading at the Boston Hassle.