Sean Penn in the trenches, Sean Penn with President Zelensky, Sean Penn at the scene of a bombing: ubiquitous in Superpowerhis documentary presented at the Berlin Film Festival, the American star wants to put his notoriety at the service of the Ukrainian cause.
An ode to the courage of Ukrainians
When the director of Into The WildOscar-winning actor in Harvey Milk And Mystic River, takes off in the winter of 2022 for the former Soviet Republic, it is with the idea of filming the metamorphosis of Volodymyr Zelensky, actor and television personality who became president. But fate decides otherwise: while Sean Penn and his team have been in kyiv for a few days, waiting to meet Zelensky, Vladimir Putin’s Russia launches the invasion of the country on February 24.
Zelensky, target number one, refuses to flee the country. Sean Penn and his team will continue to film in this suspended time, before finding refuge in Poland, and will make several trips to Ukraine in the following year. The result is a documentary filmed in gonzo mode, with a rowdy image, conceived as an assumed hymn to the courage of the Ukrainians and a cry of alarm for Western countries to engage more in the war by supplying weapons.
If show “the truth about Ukraine’s absolute unity to stand up for all the things that make life worth living“equates to propaganda,”so I’m very proud to be seen as a propaganda agent“, Sean Penn told the press in Berlin. “We made a very biased movie, because that’s the real story that we found“on the spot, he asserted.
The highlight of this two-hour film is the first and brief meeting filmed, the very night of the invasion, in a corner of the presidential palace, with Zelensky. “We are grateful for all the help, but the (support of) Americans must be even stronger“, says the president, in the hope that the notoriety of the filmmaker will make him a spokesperson across the Atlantic. has also multiplied initiatives, sometimes decried, abroad.
Complicity with Zelensky
The war story mixes images from news channels or videos from social networks, edited in a sometimes chaotic way, and the peregrinations of Sean Penn driving in a sedan through Kiev and the Ukraine, between two vodka and tonics. The one who was roundly criticized for having organized in 2015 an interview of the Mexican drug kingpin, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, while he was on the run, is risking himself to the eastern front, deep in a trench within sight of a bridge behind which, he was told, the enemy was hiding.
Sean Penn also stages his complicity with President Zelensky, with other more recent interviews, where the leader confides in how he managed the stress of war with his family. Before promising, in a joke, to Sean Penn to join him “two days in Santa Monica“When the war is over.
Many other interviews were conducted by Sean Penn, his co-director Aaron Kaufman, and his team, with officials such as the mayor of Kiev Vitali Klitschko, soldiers on the front line or members of civil society. They are however partly eclipsed by the staging of the actor on all terrains, up to the Polish border, towards which we see him heading, his wheeled suitcase in hand.
He who recognizes that he does not “knew nothing about Ukraine like most Americans“before embarking on this project, also intends to do educational work with his compatriots, going so far as to venture into another hostile land for him, the set of the ultra-conservative American continuous news channel Fox News, to convince them.