In the midst of debuting a new movie at the first pandemic-era Cannes Film Festival, director Sean Penn had strong words about the Trump administration’s handling of the global health crisis.
The longtime artist and activist — who donned a mask when not speaking at a Sunday press conference — discussed the past year he’s devoted to COVID-19 testing and vaccinations in underserved communities.
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“We were — not only as a country, but as a world – let down and openly neglected, misinformed. We had truth and reason assaulted under what was in all terms an obscene administration,” Penn said of the former president and his pandemic task force.
Penn added that “when my team and I would come home from test and vaccinations sites at night, particularly during testing under Trump, to maddening news — it felt like someone with a machine gun gunning down communities that were most vulnerable from a turret at the White House.”
Sitting beside his daughter and leading lady Dylan Penn, who he directs in the Cannes competition entry “Flag Day,” Penn said there was reason to be hopeful.
“In the transition to the task force that President Biden put together, it was really that feeling like a sun was rising,” he said. “There was no effort of integrity coming from the federal government until the Trump administration was dismissed.”
Penn has been a notable Trump detractor, this year saying the former president was “a man who all would concede is guilty of negligent homicide on a grand scale.” He’s also devoted the resources of his nonprofit CORE — Community Organized Relief Effort — to wide coronavirus testing and vaccinations. A longtime anti-war activist, Penn has also contributed to relief efforts for crises in Haiti and Hurricane Katrina.
“Flag Day” premiered on Saturday night in Cannes, tugging heartstrings as the Oscar winner appears alongside his kids Dylan and Hopper Penn. The film is lead by Dylan, an adaptation of Jennifer Vogel’s memoir detailing a complex relationship with her conman father.
United Artists Releasing will release “Flag Day” in U.S. theaters on August 13.
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