Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has claimed yet another casualty from the film community, as Lithuanian documentarian Mantas Kvedaravicius has died in a Russian attack at the age of 45, according to Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s information agency (via The New York Times). Kvedaravicius was killed while trying to flee the city of Mariupol, where he had spent much of his career documenting conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
Kvedaravicius is best known for the 2016 documentary “Mariupolis,” which was a hit at the Berlin International Film Festival. The film takes place in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, which was frequently occupied by Russian troops, even years before Russia formally invaded Ukraine. But rather than focus on Russia’s aggression, the film focused on telling small, human stories about ordinary people trying to continue living their lives in the midst of armed conflict.
In a 2016 interview with the Odessa Review, Kvedaravicius explained his artistic process for films like “Mariupolis,” saying that “the idea of ‘Mariupolis’ was to show the course of life during wartime — how regular people carry on with their everyday lives mere steps away from a war zone, gunshots, explosions and death. It is a film about the pricelessness of every second of life. It is not about war, but about life next to war and lived in spite of war.”
Kvedaravicius, who is Lithuanian, most recently made his scripted filmmaking debut on 2019’s “Parthenon,” which he directed and co-wrote. He was also known for directing the Chechen war documentary “Barzakh.” He said that the experience of filming in dangerous places like Chechnya was simply an unavoidable part of the filmmaking process that he did not lose much sleep over.
“To me, filming is pleasurable, so I would say the process,” Kvedaravicius said. “My thoughts, my own approach to the subject becomes part of the message. In this case, that fear is inevitable. Violence is an inevitable part of reality. All of these things are an objective, inextricable part of our existence.”
Kvedaravicius is not the first documentary filmmaker to be killed in the war in Ukraine. Last month, prominent journalist and documentary filmmaker Brent Renaud was killed while covering the conflict.