Following weeks of troop buildups on the border of Ukraine, Russian forces invaded the country on Wednesday night. The situation is still very much in flux, and there’s an unexpected filmmaker inside the country during this chaotic time. Via Deadline, actor and director Sean Penn traveled to Ukraine to film a documentary for Vice Media.
According to the report, Penn first went to Ukraine in November to speak with Ukrainian troops stationed on the frontline of the conflict with Russian-sponsored separatists in Donetsk. While Penn left the country after that, he returned earlier this week as Ukraine braced itself for a war with Russia. Penn reportedly met with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the days before the invasion.
Penn was in the Ukraine capital, Kyiv, earlier today during a government briefing. It’s unclear how many people are traveling with Penn beyond his cameraman. But even for established journalists, war zones are far from neutral territory. This is a truly dangerous situation, especially as Russian troops push further into the country.
The Hollywood career of Penn goes back over four decades, and he is highly regarded for his Oscar-winning performances in Milk and Mystic River. His other credits include Fast Times at Ridgemont High, At Close Range, State of Grace, Carlito’s Way, Sweet and Lowdown, and I Am Sam.
Penn has also been known for his humanitarian efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Penn moved to Haiti during the crisis and founded the J/P Haitian Relief Organization. For his efforts, Penn became the first non-citizen of Haiti to be named as Ambassador-at-Large for Haiti. In addition, he interviewed the drug kingpin El Chapo for Rolling Stone, which caused him to receive death threats. But as mentioned above, Penn’s shoot in Ukraine may prove to be far more dangerous than anything else he has ever been involved in.
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