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Culture

The World Premiere of Mariupolis 2 at the Cannes Film Festival

Mariupolis 2, a documentary by the filmmaker and cultural anthropologist Mantas Kvedaravičius, murdered in Mariupol, Ukraine, at the end of March, will have its world premiere at the 75th Cannes International Film Festival, in the official special screenings programme Cannes Premieres, which opens on 17 May. Mariupolis 2 will premiere at Cannes on 19 May.

Mariupolis 2 is one of two films by Kvedaravičius that have been left unfinished due to his death. It is a mosaic work, addressing moments of everyday life in a city at war. The initial documentary, Mariupolis, was made in 2016 and premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival, in the Panorama Dokumente programme. It has since been screened at international festivals in Hong Kong, Warsaw, Lausanne, and Nyon.

Mariupolis 2 focuses on daily life in a city that is being destroyed as we watch. At the Cannes premiere, the film will be accompanied by the explanation of the reasons behind Kvedaravičius’ return to Mariupol, even as it was being ravaged by Russian invaders.

‘You know what was absolutely incredible in Mariupol? Nobody was afraid of death, even though they thought they were. Death was already here, and everybody wanted to die meaningfully. People even risked their own lives to help each other. They smoked outside and talked, even while bombs were falling. Money no longer existed because life had become too short to think about it. Everyone was happy with what they had, becoming a better version of themselves; there was no past, no future, no judgement, no ambiguity! It was paradise in hell. The touching, fragile wings of a butterfly. The smell of the true value of death. That’s what life was like in there’, reads the presentation of the film.

Kvedaravičius directed five films, all of which have been very successful at international festivals and have received a lot of attention from film professionals and audiences. His debut film Barzakh (2011) is about missing people in Chechnya and the trauma endured by their relatives. This film is an extension of Kvedaravičius’ research Knots of Absence: Death, Dreams, and Disappearances at the Limits of Law in the Counter-Terrorism Zone of Chechnya and premiered at the Berlin Film Festival where it won the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury and the Amnesty International Film Award. Kvedaravičius presented his first feature-length film, Parthenon, to the world at the Venice International Film Critics’ Week in 2019. His documentary essay Prologue, whose filming has been going on for several years in different countries, will have its world premiere this year at one of the international festivals.

Kvedaravičius’ fifth and final film, Mariupolis 2, extends his filmography with another work that combines the curiosity of an anthropologist with especially human sensitivity, poetry with a gaze open to reality. Dounia Sichov, who worked with Kvedaravičius on Mariupolis and Parthenon, is the film’s editor, and Kvedaravičius’ partner, Hanna Bilobrova, is the co-director.

The main producers of Mariupolis 2 are the Lithuanian film production companies Extimacy Films and Studio Uljana Kim. Nadia Turincev (Easy Riders Films, France) and Thanassis Karathanos (Twenty Twenty Vision, Germany); the producers of Kvedaravičius’ earlier film, Mariupolis, were also involved in the production.