(NEW YORK) — On Monday May 1, to mark World Press Freedom Day, PEN America will host an advance screening of the documentary 20 Days in Mariupol with a discussion afterward by the film director, Mstyslav Chernov, an AP video journalist and war correspondent; PEN CEO Suzanne Nossel—who led a writers delegation to Ukraine in 2022— AP Executive Editor Julie Pace and the president of the Ukraine journalists union. The film tells the story of a team of Associated Press journalists trapped in the besieged Ukraine city during the months-long Russian assault in 2022.

The event takes place starting at 6 p.m. at Hunter College’s Roosevelt House (47 East 65th St., New York City) and is open to the public at no charge; advance registration is required.

This is the 30th anniversary of World Press Freedom Day, celebrated on May 3; the theme this year is free expression as a driver of human rights.

20 Days in Mariupol is the first feature-length documentary by reporter Chernov, an AP war correspondent and photographer for decades. He presents an unflinching account of the 20 days he and fellow Ukrainian AP colleagues Evgeniy Maloletka and Vasilisa Stepanenko spent covering Mariupol as the last international journalists left in the city. Trapped and struggling to continue to document atrocities of the Russian invasion, the team of journalists capture what later become defining images of the war: dying children, mass graves, the bombing of a maternity hospital, and more. 

The film, which opens exclusively July 14 at New York’s Film Forum, is a vivid, harrowing account of civilians caught in the siege, as well as a window into what it’s like to report from a conflict zone, and the impact of such journalism around the globe.

PEN America’s Suzanne Nossel will be the moderator at the talkback with the film’s director Mstyslav Chernov, the AP’s Julie Pace, and Sergiy Tomilenko, president of the National Union of Journalists in Ukraine.

PEN America is also among the sponsors of two other discussions on May 3 marking World Press Freedom Day, both at Columbia University.

A discussion on Media Freedom in the Face of Blasphemy Laws will take place at the Satow Room at Columbia University’s Lerner Hall. (2029 Broadway, New York City) from 10:35 am- 11:55 pm.

The event marks the launch of the Report on International Standards Related to Blasphemy Laws and Media Freedom, and was written by Karuna Nundy, who is among the speakers. The report is a collaboration with leading academic institutions from around the world and examines national laws regulating speech that is characterized as ‘blasphemous’ and assesses the compatibility of those laws with media freedom. Reflecting on the right of journalists to operate free from control, censorship and harassment, the panel will discuss the findings and recommendations of the report.

Register in advance here.


  • Catalina Botero, consulting director, Columbia Global Freedom of Expression
  • Professor Can Yeginsu, law lecturer at Columbia University, and deputy chair of the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom
  • Baroness Helena Kennedy KC, director, IBA Human Rights Institute, and member of the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom
  • Hina Jilani, advocate, Supreme Court of Pakistan, member of the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom, and former UN special representative of the secretary general for human rights defenders
  • Karuna Nundy, advocate, Supreme Court of India, member of the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom
  • Suzanne Nossel, PEN America chief executive officer

The final event, Content Moderation, Free Speech and the Eternal Search for Truth, takes place from 12:10-1:30 pm in the same Columbia University location as the earlier event. Register in advance here

The session will explore different approaches to the underlying values of journalistic ethics and integrity on social media platforms:  How do new regulatory models, like the Meta Oversight Board, approach this through content moderation? How are different forms of media evolving and adapting? Are the fundamental rights and values of free expression and a free press still the same?

– Catalina Botero, consulting director, Columbia Global Freedom of Expression and co-chair, Meta Oversight Board
Suzanne Nossel, PEN America chief executive officer and board member, Meta Oversight Board
Alan Rusbridger, editor, Prospect Magazine and board member, Meta Oversight Board
Michael Zelenko, executive editor, Rest of World
Preethi Nallu, global director, Report for the World

About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. To learn more visit PEN.org

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, [email protected], 201-247-5057