Actor-director Sean Penn’s Ukraine documentary to premiere at Berlin film fest

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BERLIN – American 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, organisers said on Monday.

The 73rd annual Berlinale, taking place from Feb 16 to 26, will shine a spotlight on the war and mark the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Penn’s Superpower, billed as “the chronicle of a film project that reality forced to change into something less controllable but more meaningful”, will be the most prominent among the Ukraine entries at the festival.

Festival 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 invasion began.

The two-time Oscar winner was photographed attending a government news conference in Kyiv, and could be seen meeting with 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 had previously attracted controversy as a result of his forays into current affairs, especially after he and Mexican-American actress Kate del Castillo interviewed the Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman while he 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 festival, Europe’s first major cinema showcase of the year, would spotlight several documentaries and feature films from Ukrainian...

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