When the war in Ukraine (shown here) began, “Frontline” did a quick pivot.
“We knew right away” that this had to be a new focus, Raney Aronson-Rath, the series producer, told the Television Critics Association.
One result – “Ukraine: Life Under Russia’s Attack — airs at 10 p.m. Tuesday (Aug. 2). Two others have already aired, with two more on the way.
“Frontline” usually specializes in a fading artform – hourlong documentaries about current events. Those can take months … or longer; immediate coverage of a war is the province of newscasts (including “PBS Newshour”) and cable and streaming news channels.
But that changed on Feb. 22, when Russia began to invade Ukraine. “Frontline” followed with:
— “Putin’s Road to War,” a new hour, March 15.
— A rerun of “Putin’s Way,” a 2015 documentary.
— Tuesday’s film, which is “told from the ground,” Aronson-Rath said. “It’s very intimate … It shows you what life is like for the people who stayed.”
— Another close-up look, the upcoming “20 Days in Mariupol.” That was filmed by Mstyslav Chernov, an Associated Press videographer who continues to work in his native Ukraine. Often, he said, a siren will sound about 30 seconds before a missile strikes. “You just have to walk away from the windows.”
— And another upcoming project with the AP, “Putin’s Attack on Ukraine: Documenting War Crimes.”
That includes the specialized work of Beatrice Dupuy, a “news verification journalist” who searches for video that might verify a report. “In our data base, we have over 370” events so far, she said.