Lithuanian film director and academic Mantas Kvedaravicius, who captured the escalating conflict in Ukraine in several powerful works, has been reported dead in Mariupol, the Ukrainian city that was the subject of his doc “Mariupolis” that premiered in Berlin.

“While (he was) trying to leave Mariupol, Russian occupiers killed Lithuanian director Mantas Kvedaravicius,” the Ukrainian Defence Ministry tweeted on Saturday. Kvedaravicius was 45.  

A Lithuanian news agency called 15min reported that Kvedaravicius was rushed to a hospital but could not be saved.

News that Kvedaravicius has been killed by the Russian military — which could not be verified with family members — has prompted an outpour of statements and social media posts mourning the director’s death.

“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,” Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said in a statement.

Best known for “Mariupolis,” which portrays Ukrainian citizens going on with their lives while besieged in the Southern port city by Russian-backed fighters in 2014, Kvedaravicius was previously in Berlin with his 2011 doc “Barzakh,” shot in the Russian region of Chechnya as it recovers from the war with Russia, laying bare the reality of life there. The film was given a prize by Amnesty International at the Berlinale that year.

In 2019 Kvedaravicius attended Venice where “Parthenon,” his third film — and first incursion into fiction narrative, albeit mixed with documentary techniques — premiered in the Venice Critics’ Week section. Kvedaravicius’ feature film debut was based on three years of anthropological research among marginal communities in Odessa, Istanbul, and Athens.

“Mantas Kvedaravicius was a unique human being. Maddeningly stubborn; a one-of-a-kind artist,” said Locarno Film Festival director Giona A. Nazzaro, who at that time headed the Venice Critics’ Week, in a Facebook post in which he also praised the pic for its “hauntingly powerful images.”

“He conjured a painful beauty. Ferocious poetry. Mantas was like a seer. He knew what was coming and decided he wanted to see it up close,” Nazzaro added.

“We will miss you, Mantas. You sure taught us a hard lesson.”

The Vilnius International Film Festival paid tribute to Kvedaravicius with a minute of silence during its closing ceremony on Sunday.

“We lost a director who did a heroic job documenting the atrocities of the war,” said the fest’s director Algirdas Ramaška, who noted that “Mantas himself did not like to talk.”

“Mantas dedicated his work to the areas of conflict, the reality of war and the humanity that shines in that darkness. His cinema was and will be very important not only today.”

Information on Kvedaravicius’ survivors was not immediately available.