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A former Sidney Sussex student has been killed while trying to leave the besieged city of Mariupol, the University announced yesterday (05/04).

Mantas Kvedaravičius, 45, was a Lithuanian filmmaker and an alumnus of Sidney Sussex College, where in 2013 he completed a PhD in Social Anthropology.

The Ukrainian defence ministry announced his death via Twitter on Sunday (03/04), saying that he was killed while trying to leave the city of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine, currently under siege by Putin’s forces.

According to Russian filmmaker, Vitaliy Manski, he “died with a camera in his hands” while filming the escalating violence in the city.

Mariupol was the subject of Dr Kvedaravičius’ 2016 documentary, Mariupolis, which depicted everyday life as the city faced advances from Russian-backed forces in 2014. In an interview with The Odessa Review, he said that the purpose of the film 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.”


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While at Cambridge, Dr Kvedaravičius wrote his PhD thesis on life in war-torn Chechnya, a republic of Russia. Chechnya was also the setting of his 2011 documentary, Barzakh, which won the Amnesty International Film Prize at that year’s Berlin International Film Festival.

In his email to students and staff yesterday, Professor Stephen Toope, the vice-chancellor, said that among the “increasingly distressing” news from Ukraine, it was “especially poignant” to learn of Dr Kvedaravičius’ death.

He wrote: “Every death in this brutal conflict is an unnecessary tragedy. Dr Kvedaravičius’ death shows how close we are – as a community of students, staff and alumni – to the atrocities taking place in Ukraine.”

In a tribute to Dr Kvedaravičius, Professor Kenneth Armstrong, the vice-master of Sidney Sussex, said: “Times of war are the times we most need those like Mantas who are brave enough to report and document what happens in places whose previously unfamiliar names become synonyms for the atrocities of conflict.

“As we mourn the loss of a member of the Sidney community, we admire the conviction and courage of all those who risk their own lives to act as witnesses for the world.”

Dr Kvedaravičius will be remembered by his wife and two children.