Raney Aronson-Rath, CH-CH Parent, Oscar Winner, and… 2024 Commencement Speaker!

Posted by Matt Soule on 4/30/24 3:27 PM
Matt Soule
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It has been an eventful year for Raney Aronson-Rath P’27, as the documentary she produced with FRONTLINE, 20 Days in Mariupol, took home the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature Film at the 2024 Academy Awards in March. Aronson-Rath recently visited campus to host a screening of the film, along with a panel discussion, and is excited to return on June 1st to deliver the Commencement Address to the Class of 2024.

Raney Aronson-Roth - Commencement Speaker

As the editor-in-chief and executive producer of FRONTLINE, PBS’ investigative journalism documentary series, Aronson-Rath works on twenty films a year. In 2023, one of those films was 20 Days in Mariupol, which follows a Ukrainian journalist, Mstyslav Chernov, as he documents the Russian invasion of Ukraine while trapped in the besieged city of Mariupol.

After its release, the film went on to win the Sundance Film Festival Audience Award for World Cinema Documentary and the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, among others. 

On April 21st, Raney Aronson-Rath was joined by the film’s editor, Michelle Mizner, and Arun Rath P’27, host of All Things Considered on WGBH Radio, for a screening and panel discussion that took place in CH-CH’s Mankiw Theater. “I’m so excited to be here,” said Aronson-Rath. “Usually I’m sitting where you are all sitting because I’m here as a mom, and it’s an honor that you’ve invited us here.”


Panel Discussion in the Mankiw Theater

Prior to the discussion, the CH-CH Class of 2024 viewed 20 Days in Mariupol through contextualized segments in their humanities electives throughout the month.  They attended the panel discussion and provided the questions for the evening. “I just want to say it meant a lot to hear about the way that the film was shared with students and the conversations that happened around it,” said Mizner. “Thank you for taking such care in the way that it was presented.”

Throughout the discussion, topics ranged from the thoughtful approach to using sensitive footage, how to maintain objectivity in journalism, and how the way a film is distributed can affect its impact (20 Days in Mariupol is available for free on FRONTLINE and YouTube; please note that this documentary displays graphic images of war). “The reason that FRONTLINE films are in front of the paywall is because of Raney,” said Mizner. “You cannot hide this journalism. I’m very proud that it’s free and available to the public, and that it is being screened with audiences like this.”


From Left: Raney Aronson-Rath P’27, Michelle Mizner

With the difficult scenes throughout the film, many students asked about the filmmakers ability to not let their emotions impact their ability to remain journalistic. “We ask that question literally all day long,” said Aronson-Rath. “At FRONTLINE, the journalism that we practice is independent journalism. We never want to side with a government, we never want to side with any call to action, because we want to remain independent. We care deeply about just showing what is actually happening, it’s the job of prosecutors and war crimes investigators to look at this film and then do their jobs.”

The FRONTLINE team is currently working on a new film with 20 Days in Mariupol Director, Chernov, and a host of other films, that will shine a light on topics that range from conflicts around the world, to investigative biographies of the U.S. presidential candidates.


From Left: Lance Conrad, Ed.D., Arun Rath, Raney Aronson-Rath, Michelle Mizner

Aronson-Rath was able to spend time with the CH-CH Class of 2024, not only during the panel discussion, but after, where students talked about their own stories, and of course, took some photos with Oscar. “Talking with them has given me so many great ideas for topics that matter to them, and for the theme of the Commencement speech,” said Aronson-Rath.

We look forward to welcoming Raney Aronson-Rath back to campus on June 1st as she addresses the Class of 2024.


Raney Aronson-Rath meets with members of the Class of 2024