According to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, Lithuanian film director Mantas Kvedaravicius, 45, was killed Saturday in Mariupol, a Ukrainian city under siege and the subject of his documentaries. He leaves behind two children. “While (he was) trying to leave Mariupol, Russian occupiers killed Lithuanian director Mantas Kvedaravicius,” the ministry’s information center tweeted on Sunday.
Kvedaravicius was a documentary filmmaker known for his conflict-zone documentaries. His films have premiered and been awarded in cities including Berlinale, Busan, and Hong-Kong. His previous film about Mariupol, Mariupolis (2016), presented the normal routines of a population who has known nothing but conflict. His breakthrough piece was award-winning Barzakh, which he shot in the Russian region of Chenchnya, and highlights the destruction war leaves behind.
From the film’s synopsis:
In a Chechen city recovering after the war, a man disappears. As daily life goes on, those in search are drawn into a world where encounters with diviners and legal advisors, with the torturers and the tortured, with secret prisons and mythical lakes all become commonplace.
Barzakh was a great success and won 8 awards, including the Amnesty International Film Prize at the 2011 Berlin Film Festival. Kvedaravicius was also a long standing academic, and even an underwater archaeologist. He held a PhD in social anthropology from the University of Cambridge, and was an Associate Professor at Vilnius University, where he taught courses on religion, law, and political theory. He had been conducting research on torture and disappearances in the North Caucasus since 2006.
Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda shared a statement of mourning, “We lost a creator well known in Lithuania and in the whole world, who, until the very last moment, in spite of danger, worked in Russia-occupied Ukraine.”