The Berlin Film Festival today announced that Sean Penn will debut the documentary he shot in Ukraine with Volodymyr Zelenskyy at Berlin next month.

The doc is titled Superpower and documents Ukraine and President Zelenskyy at the start of Russia’s invasion. Penn shares a co-director credit with Aaron Kaufman.

Introducing the doc, Berlin Artistic Director Carlo Chatrian said: “This is a documentary film done under very difficult circumstances, but it is also a film that tells the role of art and artists in difficult times.”

Chatrian added that the film features footage of Penn in Ukraine in November 2021, filming with Zelenskyy, as well as footage of the actor/filmmaker in the country’s capital Kyiv when Russia’s invasion began.

The festival also shared an image from the doc, which features Penn and Zelenskyy in discussion.

Sean Penn, Volodymyr Zelensky in Superpower © 2022. THE PEOPLE’S SERVANT, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Reports about Penn’s activities in Ukraine made headlines late last year when the two-time Oscar winner was pictured at a press briefing held by the Ukrainian government in Kyiv. In a short video posted to social media accounts, Penn was also seen gifting one of his Oscar trophies to Zelenskyy.

“It’s just a symbolic silly thing, but if I know this is here then I’ll feel better and strong enough for the fights,” Penn told Zelenskyy in the video posted by the Ukrainian President. “When you win, bring it back to Malibu, because I’ll feel much better knowing there’s a piece of me here.”

Zelenskyy in return gave Penn the Order of Merit honor “for his sincere support and significant contribution to the popularization of Ukraine in the world.”

Penn previously visited Ukraine in November 2021 to research for the film. Penn eventually left Ukraine for safety reasons.

Superpower will screen as part of the Berlinale Special Gala series. The screening will be one of the headline events at Berlin, which this year falls on the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion. The festival is hosting a selection of events to mark the anniversary and show support for Ukrainian filmmakers.

These events include a designated panel at Berlin’s European Film Market focused on financing options for Ukrainian audio-visual content. The EFM is also handing free market and festival accreditations to Ukrainian filmmakers. Around 50 Ukrainian industry professionals are set to travel to the festival.

The festival will also screen nine Ukrainian films across all its sections, including a new pic from Vitaly Mansky and Yevhen Titarenko titled Eastern Front, which debuts as part of the Encounters sidebar.


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