Mantas Kvedaravičius made this attentive portrait of the inhabitants of the Ukrainian city of Mariupol in the spring of 2015, just after the Russian occupation of Crimea. In 2022, Mariupol has been obliterated and the Lithuanian filmmaker Kvedaravičius is no longer alive—he was killed in Mariupol while documenting the Russian invasion.
The city became caught up in the conflict between separatists and the Ukrainian government in 2015. But despite the threat, life goes on, with all its joy, love and worry: a father plays with his children, a cobbler mends shoes, girls go fishing. The tram squeaks its way through the city as gunfire sounds in the distance.
Kvedaravičius also filmed beautifully costumed young people during rehearsals for a performance, a blazing hot metalwork factory where the workers are receiving safety training, and a wedding with a radiant bride. He finds humanity and poetry in a city on the brink of war. This collective fresco is a visually powerful tribute to Mariupol, and is dedicated to its poets and cobblers.