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Sean Penn premieres love letter to Ukraine at Berlin fest

Sean Penn premiered “Superpower”, his admiring portrait of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at conflict, telling the Berlin movie pageant Saturday the film was additionally a wake-up name about People’ personal fragile democracy.

The 2-time Oscar winner was in Kyiv making a film about Zelensky’s rise from comic to nationwide chief when Russia invaded almost one 12 months in the past. In interviews on that first terrifying night time and through the preliminary months of the onslaught, Penn and Zelensky constructed up what they each name a detailed friendship. “It was a really shifting method to begin to get to know any individual,” Penn instructed reporters. “Except for assembly my youngsters at their beginning, the spotlight of (my life was) assembly and sensing an awesome human coronary heart of braveness that day with that man.” Penn travelled to Kyiv once more this week to indicate the documentary to Zelensky and his staff. The president’s chief of employees, Andriy Yermak, tweeted his thanks: “nice movie”.

‘Creepy little bully’

Zelensky joined Penn by video hyperlink on the pageant’s opening ceremony Thursday to ask for the leisure business’s sustained assist in preserving Western international locations united behind Ukraine. “Cinema can not change the world,” mentioned Zelensky. “However it might affect and encourage individuals who can change the world.” The skilled actor stresses within the movie that the extra shortly the conflict is ended, the much less doubtless “People should battle” sooner or later in a Russian conflict towards NATO. Penn, who seems in nearly each scene, mentioned he was okay with being known as a “propagandist”. “We made a really unapologetically biased movie as a result of that was the true story we discovered,” he mentioned.

The actor admits he was a naive “Pollyanna” earlier than the conflict, by no means believing that Russia’s Vladimir Putin, whom he known as a “creepy little bully”, would undergo with a full-scale invasion. Amid gruelling scenes of civilian deaths, the movie has lighter moments. As he heads to the entrance line within the Donbas area, he jokes when he’s handed a knife that the Ukrainian individuals can now relaxation straightforward as a result of “Sean Penn is armed”, earlier than brandishing two clenched fists on the digital camera. And after months of conflict, Penn treats Ukrainian air power pilots to a screening of “High Gun: Maverick” and units up a video name with one in every of its stars. Past Zelensky, Penn speaks with diplomats, reporters and analysts in addition to Ukrainian troopers and pro-democracy activists to supply an “fool’s information” to the final decade of Ukrainian historical past.

‘Very important and useless’

The movie’s title comes from a scene in Zelensky’s hit comedy present “Servant of the Individuals” through which he tells his younger son that he’ll shield him from “dangerous guys” utilizing his “superpower” — his love for his household. However it’s also an ironic reference to america and Russia. Penn argues that Ukraine may very well be now seen as “the higher us” — a brand new international beacon for freedom and democracy. “Rising up in america — this gained’t be information to you — we’re born with a misguided sense of exceptionalism,” Penn instructed reporters. Whereas America is now riven with political and cultural strife, he present in Ukraine “absolute unity”. “These persons are doing what they should do just because they love their nation they usually love one another,” he mentioned.

“So the lesson is easy and we must always all honour them by doing our greatest to comply with it.” The West, he mentioned, now had an obligation to step up its navy assist. “Probably the most vital humanitarian response that may occur proper now’s the supply and provide of long-range precision missiles,” Penn mentioned. Preliminary opinions have been blended, with The Hollywood Reporter calling the undertaking “each important and useless”. “It could be straightforward to write down the entire thing off as one massive and barely harmful vainness undertaking, however let’s be trustworthy: This conflict considerations all of us, and the actor is doing all he can to assist the great guys.” “Superpower” is working out of competitors on the Berlin movie pageant, which is spotlighting Ukraine with a sequence of recent documentaries and have movies.

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