Sean Penn and Ukraine

The other night I had the opportunity to meet and hear from Sean Penn.  Full disclosure, I was not alone with him.  There were 499 other people with me in a relatively small movie theater.

I was attending the AmDocs (American documentary) Film Festival in Palm Springs California.  Of the 3,000 film festivals in the world each year, this one is apparently ranked as one of the top 100.

The reason Sean Penn was there for the opening event of the film festival was to personally introduce to the audience his documentary Superpower.

I learned a couple of things.

One, I learned something about Sean Penn, a person I knew very little about.  More about that later.

Two, I learned a lot about the heroic courage, heartbreak, and indefatigable perseverance of the Ukrainian people in their fight to save their homeland and their democracy.

The message from the documentary is clear — Ukraine needs more Western help to win the war as soon as possible.  Ukraine needs weapons and ammunition.  It is a matter of life or death for its citizens and for the country.

In addition, you definitely come away from the film with a huge admiration for Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and role he his playing leading his country.  More than that, he is really leading the free world in its efforts to stop Vladimir Putin’s insane efforts to restore the old USSR.

As for 63-year-old Sean Penn, he is an odd duck in some ways.  Some would call him deranged.  His hair is totally unkempt.  He smokes, he drinks.  He has a long list of ex-wives and lovers, including marriages to Madonna, Robin Wright, and Leila George.  Romantic relationships with Scarlett Johannson, Charlize Theron, and many others.

He has a reputation for having a volatile temper, leading to some altercations and arrests.  He has made his share of controversial, some would say, insensitive statements over time.  The list is long, involving Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, El Chapo in Mexico, along with statements at various times about the Falkland Islands, Syria, Pakistan, Armenia, Iraq, and Turkey.

His performance as an actor has been rewarded twice with Academy Awards for Best Actor (Milk and Mystic River).  He has been nominated for five Oscars for Best Actor, and he has appeared in 50 films.  He also has an acclaimed directorial career, with my favorite being Into the Wild.

But what is amazing to me is his outspokenness on tragedies that are occurring in this world, and his willingness to actually do something about it.  His humanitarian work began in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  That was then followed by distributing aid in the wake of the 2010 Haiti earthquake and Hurricane Matthew.  To respond to the Haiti catastrophe he formed the non-profit Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE), which subsequently administered in the US free COVID-19 diagnostic tests during the COVID-19 pandemic.

More recently he has CORE working on the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.

Finally, regardless of his oddities and personal history, and regardless of his acting accomplishments, Sean Penn sure gets the Ukraine situation right.  He totally understands the threat that the Russian invasion presents not just to Ukrainians but also to the entire free world.

I came away giving him credit for walking the talk.  Admiring him for taking actions to back up his words.



2 thoughts on “Sean Penn and Ukraine”

  1. Amen to that.
    Ukraine is deserving of every bit of support to quell the onslaught of Power Hungry Putin who is a Pitiful example of a human being just like those Hamas thugs.

  2. Hi Neil this is Janis , I was in the Ukraine in 1979 while it was under Soviet rule . The Ukrainian people were proud and friendly to our group . But we could see lots of restrictions . Then the change back to freedom I think 1991 ? Now it’s terrible having to fight to keep their freedom . I applaud Sean for his efforts to help them . I definitely will try to see the Movie . Lots of respect for you my friend . Janis

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