Sean Penn (L) with Ukrainian President Zelensky. The U.S. actor was in Ukraine when Russia invaded. Photo: UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE/AFP
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Sean Penn Ukraine documentary to premiere at Berlin film festival

26 Comments
By Deborah COLE

U.S. actor and director Sean Penn will premiere a documentary he filmed in Kyiv featuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at next month's Berlin film festival, organizers said when they unveiled the full program on Monday.

The Berlinale, as the February 16-26 event is known, will shine a spotlight on the Russian invasion of Ukraine as it passes its first anniversary.

Penn's "Superpower" is billed as "the chronicle of a film project that reality forced to change into something less controllable but more meaningful".

It will be the most prominent among several Ukraine-themed entries at the 73rd annual festival.

Berlinale co-director Carlo Chatrian told reporters the film was shot under "very difficult circumstances". Penn was in Kyiv to shoot a documentary in late February 2022 when the Russian onslaught began.

The two-time Oscar winner was photographed attending a government news conference in Kyiv, and could be seen meeting Zelensky in a video posted to the Ukrainian president's Instagram account.

The 62-year-old actor shot the documentary for Vice Studios with directing partner Aaron Kaufman.

Penn has previously attracted controversy as a result of his forays into current affairs, especially after he and Mexican-American actress Kate del Castillo interviewed Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman while the Mexican drug lord was on the run.

In 2018, Penn was reported to be in Turkey making an as-yet-unreleased documentary about the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul.

"Superpower" will screen in the Berlinale Special section of the festival, out of competition.

Chatrian said the event, Europe's first major cinema showcase of the year, would spotlight several documentaries and feature films from Ukrainian directors, in addition to works from dissident Iranian filmmakers, in a sign of "solidarity".

It will also provide free exhibition space to Ukrainian industry representatives at the festival's sprawling European Film Market, and highlight co-production possibilities with Ukraine's embattled directors, the Berlinale said.

A handful of Russian directors living in exile will also be in attendance but the festival has barred delegations and reporters with direct ties to the Russian or Iranian governments.

Chatrian unveiled the 18 films vying for the festival's prestigious Golden and Silver Bear prizes -- an "eclectic" slate of feature films and documentaries from around the world.

U.S. actors Jesse Eisenberg and Adrien Brody star in the British production "Manodrome" about a young man about to become a father for the first time.

Chatrian said it offered a fresh look at "masculinity nowadays in contemporary society".

Vicky Krieps, star of "The Phantom Thread" and "Corsage", plays in "Ingeborg Bachmann -- Journey Into the Desert", trailblazing female filmmaker Margarethe von Trotta's take on the life of the beloved Austrian author.

Japanese manga artist Makoto Shinkai will enter the competition with animated feature "Suzume", already a big box office hit in his home country.

And Korean-Canadian director Celine Song will join the race with her first feature "Past Lives", a semi-autobiographical romance about a woman torn between two lovers.

France's Philippe Garrel directs his children Louis and Esther in "The Plough", a family drama "with a big heart", Chatrian said.

And rising German star Franz Rogowski plays a member of the French Foreign Legion in "Disco Boy" by Giacomo Abbruzzese.

While Cannes and Venice have long faced criticism for a lack of female representation, Berlin traditionally has a stronger track record.

One-third of the directors invited to the Berlinale's main competition this year are women.

The 11-day festival will open with Rebecca Miller's "She Came to Me", a romantic comedy featuring "Game of Thrones" star Peter Dinklage and Oscar winners Marisa Tomei and Anne Hathaway.

U.S. actor Kristen Stewart will lead the festival jury while Hollywood director Steven Spielberg is due to pick up an Honorary Golden Bear prize for lifetime achievement.

Last year, Spanish director Carla Simon won the Golden Bear for best film for "Alcarras", a Catalan drama about peach farmers.

© 2023 AFP

©2023 GPlusMedia Inc.

26 Comments
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Sean Penn looks like he’s been hitting the gym and testosterone shots hard.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

What a circus, looool !!!..

7 ( +14 / -7 )

Sean Penn looks like he’s been hitting the gym and testosterone shots hard.

He’s always been yolked, nothing new.

0 ( +8 / -8 )

Is this the same company that produced the heavy on emotion / light on fact film The White Helmets a few years back?

7 ( +12 / -5 )

A story straight from the clown world. If Sean believes in the war so much why is he not fighting on the front lines ? I'm sure that there are some Ukrainian conscripts who would be happy for him to take their place.

8 ( +15 / -7 )

If Sean believes in the war so much why is he not fighting on the front lines ?

Sean Penn's documentary may be more powerful than having another person firing a few more bullets around.

-4 ( +7 / -11 )

Sean has been fighting on the front lines bringing the real story to us while we all sit on our A@@ in Japan - since the beginning of the war.

He wanted to make a documentary about his the involvement of the Ukrainians and how they are fighting the good fight against the Russians. He wants to bring truth to the world of war.

When someone is involved in something significant, the crowd gets jealous and calls the one who is actually doing something in this world ...a clown.

I respect the one who stands up and does something.

-4 ( +8 / -12 )

Just because he's an actor doesn't mean he's automatically right about this conflict. I say he's wrong. Just my opinion, like his. Russia does not pose a global threat. Ukraine is being used by NATO.

“The United States would not be called upon to act as the policeman of the world. When it acts, it would act in conjunction with others. Incidentally, the combination of manpower from Eastern Europe with the technical capabilities of NATO would greatly enhance the military potential of the Partnership because it would reduce the risk of body bags for NATO countries, which is the main constraint on their willingness to act. This is a viable alternative to the looming world disorder,” wrote Soros in the article.

5 ( +14 / -9 )

> > Sean has been fighting on the front lines bringing the real story to us while we all sit on our A@@ in Japan - since the beginning of the war.

He wasn't the first celeb to go behind enemy lines and won't be the last, take your pic, nothing overly outstanding, the difference is, he has money, lots of it, and can afford to go to these troubled countries or war zones, I think its a noble thing that he wants to help, but he's not a pioneer in this endeavor.

He wanted to make a documentary about his the involvement of the Ukrainians and how they are fighting the good fight against the Russians. He wants to bring truth to the world of war.

From his partisan perspective which he is entitled to do, but the man is an actor, he doesn't have a history of being politically fair and straight down the middle.

When someone is involved in something significant, the crowd gets jealous and calls the one who is actually doing something in this world ...a clown.

I don't know a single person who is jealous of Penn, not even a conversation about it.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

Do one on Ukrainain corruption

6 ( +12 / -6 )

Sean Penn

What a piece of work he is.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

Haha...

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Sean Penn's documentary may be more powerful than having another person firing a few more bullets around

Possibly.

It’ll certainly do more than the morally bankrupt apologists for Russia’s invasion you find spamming social media.

That truly is ‘clown world’.

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

K3POToday  09:49 am JST

If Sean believes in the war so much why is he not fighting on the front lines ?

Sean Penn's documentary may be more powerful than having another person firing a few more bullets around.

Sean Penn has matured and come a very long way since his days at 'Fast Times' and his marriage to the sex robot Madonna. In 1989 he did 'We're No Angels', it was a good film and he never looked back.

He has done documentaries not just in Ukraine but in Iraq and Haiti. He bravely and openly spoke out against that stupid wasteful Iraq War of 2003 - 2011 and he can say, 'Told you so'. He also spent over a year in humanitarian assistance after the horrible Haiti quake of 2010. He's been through and seen it all firsthand and his documentaries based on his experiences say a LOT. A lot more that the hyper-in-the-diaper hysteria that the American news media loves to spoon-feed to the public.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Definitely a potential winner of the Film Actors Guild award for impartiality.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

good to know - one more rubbish to pass when will appear at netflix... :)

8 ( +11 / -3 )

And building corporations is necessarily a great and honorable thing?

Yes, but food on my table and allowed me to have a decent lifestyle and millions other across the globe.

Especially one that loves to create sensational sleaze stories every day and night.

You can make that same claim about the NYT, the WP and countless others, too many to count.

*See the 'News of the World' mismanagement he caused. And Rupert even gave up his Aussie citizenship so he could get more media influence.*

That’s the power of money, Soros does the same. Penn uses his money to help people, I respect that, but he’s not the first and only which was my original point.

Selling your soul for complete control, is that really what one needs? 

It’s not a Pink Floyd song, come on now.

Sean Penn has guts and maturity. He has risked his reputation and career in his fact-finding missions and documentaries. 

I don’t think he risked anything, but again, I do respect that he does do humanitarian work, but once he did that photo op with Chavez and called him a decent guy, I was through with him.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Penn should bring those guns to the front line and knock Putin out.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Penn should bring those guns to the front line and knock Putin out.

Penn wouldn't stand a chance.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Bass4funk

Not at all man.

He was skinny in his 20s and 30s.

He looks like he’s on roids now, and thats wuite obvious.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

If the subject of modern tanks for Ukraine comes up, there is a reason why they are asking for them.....to finish the job of expelling the Russians.

With the weapons they have now, Ukraine has made a laughing stock out of the Russian army. However, if they want to quickly rid their country of the Russian invaders, and not just bleed them dry, they need offensive weapons. Modern, Western style tanks will supply the punch needed to accomplish that feat. Russia is completely unable to manufacture modern tanks in sufficient numbers to make a difference in the field. When the allies invaded Iraq, not a single Abrams tank was destroyed by a Russian tank, and the German Leopard is comparable to the Abrams. A number of Abrams tanks were lost invading Iraq, but not due to Russian tank fire.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Imperialist Russia shouldn't have occupied peaceful Ukraine

Ukraine is not a global threat

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

He looks like he’s on roids now, and thats wuite obvious.

No. People think this when they see someone jacked, but with hard work, and making it a lifestyle, it's possible to look like Penn without steroids (though he may very well be on testosterone, but that's not a steroid). Having the financial freedom to be able to spend your days working out makes it possible.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Russia does not pose a global threat.

"But the water is only lukewarm?!" protested the frog in the pot, confused as to what the worry was.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Strangerland

I do not think that when I see someone jacked. Having spent the majority of my life in gyms and doing sports, he simply looks unnatural to me.

He also has a big fat gut and yet veins popping out his huge arms and the classic roid face. It changes how ur face looks sometimes.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

thepersoniamnow, I concur. Penn has the look of the steroid abuser, including the “quality” of the muscles hes displaying. Its very obvious.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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