Tag Archives: Ukraine

“Citizen Penn” Wants Ukraine Supported Against Russia

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Hollywood actor and producer Sean Penn visits positions of the Ukrainian Armed Forces near the frontline with Russia-backed separatists in Donetsk region, Ukraine, on Nov. 18, 2021. Sean Penn came to Ukraine to shoot a film.
(Ukrainian Joint Forces Operation Press Service via AP)


Hollywood film humanitarian (Citizen Penn), Sean Penn, is smack-dab in the middle of the most dangerous region on the planet, the battlefields of Ukraine. As the Russian military apparatus surrounded and consequently invaded its western-looking, democratic neighbor, Penn was working in Ukraine on a documentary exploring “the consequences of Russian agression” for Vice Studios when hostilities were happening.


In a publicly issued statement, Penn declared,

Sean Penn is visiting Ukraine for a new documentary for Vice Studios on the consequences of Russian aggression. (Photo @AP)

“Already a brutal mistake of lives taken and hearts broken, and If he doesn’t relent, I believe Mr. Putin will have made a most horrible mistake for all of humankind…President Zelensky and the Ukrainian people have risen as historic symbols of courage and principle. Ukraine is the tip of the spear for the democratic embrace of dreams. If we allow it to fight alone, our soul as America is lost.”


Often characterized and stereotyped by early-career exploits of consistently making news headlines for punching cameramen, his political viewpoints, and marrying the world’s most recognizable pop star of the time, Madonna, Penn has diligently changed his image through extensive efforts to aid assistance to his fellow ‘man’ in war-torn, disaster laden, disaffected countries beginning in 2002 with the war in Iraq, adding a herculean Haitian earthquake response effort, and more recently expanding the availability  COVID-19 vaccines to 1.3 million disadvantaged and low-income Los Angeleans through his CORE (Community Organized Relief Effort). CORE emanated from Penn and international aid worker, Ann Lee’s experiences in their Haitian relief and recovery efforts.

In today’s LATimes article, “Actor Sean Penn wants U.S. to help rescue Ukraine from Russian invasion,” journalist Meg James expounds upon Penn’s efforts to reach out to Ukraine. Ukrainian citizens and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky lament the feelings of isolation as they fight for their freedom and the survival of their beloved Ukraine.

“America isn’t here. The European Union isn’t here,” a 24-year-old hotel employee in Kharkiv, Ukraine, named Alexander (he declined to give his last name)…So we’re fighting on our own.” Zelensky communicated that Ukraine needed more people like Penn and the true friends who support Ukraine’s struggle to maintain its freedom in the face of the Russian onslaught via a Facebook post, “Sean Penn demonstrates the courage that many others, including Western politicians, lack.



This afternoon, the German government announced a shipment of 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 500 Stinger surface-to-air missiles to Ukraine “as quickly as possible.”

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in a statement. “In this situation, it is our duty to help Ukraine, to the best of our ability, to defend itself against Vladimir Putin’s invading army.”

As reported in The Wrap, a recent petition by the Ukrainian government has called for producers, exhibitors, and world film festivals from screening and distributing Russian Federation cultural cinema and its distorted propaganda messaging. Russia has a long and storied cinema tradition of using the apparatus to further the ambitions of the federation. In recent years, several Russian films made their appearance at top world festivals.



Berlin International Film Festival Issues Statement on the Situation in Ukraine

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Berlinale Statement on the Situation in Ukraine


“We – festival workers, artists, filmmakers … think fondly of our friends in Ukraine and we are by their side in a call for peace.

One week ago, the Berlin International Film Festival was celebrating a complicated yet successful edition. Filmmakers, artists, and journalists from all over the world gathered in Berlin to enjoy a collective and joyful experience. The feeling of being together again, with no distinctions of nationality, religion, or culture, transported us in a way that film festivals can accomplish.

While these memories remain fresh, other images have broken into our lives, bringing a darker perspective. The world is on a verge of a huge crisis. As a showcase of the free world, the Berlinale has always put at its center the notion of freedom and the will to bridge East and West.

Throughout its history, the Berlin International Film Festival has had the opportunity to showcase films relating to Ukrainian history and culture in all sections of the festival, recently, this year’s Klondike by Maryna El Gorbach and Terykony by Taras Tomenko, Oleg Sentsov’s Numbers in 2020, back to the films of Kira Muratova and the early short films of Myroslav Slaboshpytsky, and many more.

Films cannot change society and the course of history, but they can help in changing the minds of people. Films are telling us that the world is already in a too precarious condition to add even more suffering and destruction.”


(Released by Berlinale Press Office)

UKRAINIAN SHERIFFS Selected as Ukraine’s Oscar Entry for Best Foreign Language Film

Ukraine selects Roman Bondarchuk’s documentary UKRANIAN SHERIFFS to represent the nation in this year’s Academy Award Foreign Language Category.The film premiered  at last year’s Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival, where it won the jury special prize in the main competition.

Viktor and Volodya, two democratically chosen sheriffs, who try to keep the peace in their East-Ukrainian village near Crimea. Every day they do their utmost to settle neighborly disputes over lost ducks, stuck strollers, and other tragedies of daily life with compassion and a healthy sense of humor. On the eve of the country’s 70th anniversary of WWII’s victory, the village starts to feel the rumblings of the Russian invasion of Crimea and Eastern Ukraine.  Men are being drafted into the Ukrainian Army to defend their country. Viktor and Volodya find themselves dealing with the rising tension of the impending invasion.

Stay tuned for more on this heartfelt, often comical, slice-of-life documentary on Ukranian Sheriffs!

Roman Bondarchuk is the artistic director of the International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival, Docudays UA. As a documentary filmmaker, he has collaborated with MDR, ZDF, Arte and other European TV channels. Some of his well-known award-winning films include THE TAXI-DRIVER, RADUNYTSIA, and EUROMAIDAN. ROUGH CUT. and CAFE VOYAGE. UKRAINIAN SHERIFFS marks his first feature-length documentary.


(Source: Silversalt PR press release provided by Thessa Mooij)