'SUPERPOWER' began in 2021 as a deep dive into Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s rise from an actor to political figure, but evolved after the Russian bombings in the Ukraine capital of Kyiv
The actor and director, 63, will be releasing a documentary on the war, titled SUPERPOWER, about “Ukraine’s fight to maintain freedom from Russia,” according to a press release for the film.
The documentary — which was presented at the Berlin International Film Festival — started in 2021 as a deep dive into Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s rise from an actor to political figure, but evolved after the Russian bombings in the Ukraine capital of Kyiv.
“We set out to tell a lighthearted tale of this comedic actor who had been elected president of Ukraine and instead became witness to a historic leader and his country’s war for freedom,” Penn said in the release. “When you step into a country of such incredible unity, you realize what we [in the United States] have all been missing."
The documentary will feature a series of interviews between Penn and Zelenskyy conducted between seven trips made over the past 2 years. It will also document the months before the invasion and the hours leading up to the bombings in Kyiv, which Penn was on the ground for.
“What makes this film extraordinary is the immersive nature of Penn’s journey, which is a hallmark of our studio,” said Susan Zirinsky, president of See It Now Studios, which produced the film alongside Paramount+.
“Being in the president’s bunker the night of the invasion to speak firsthand with [Zelenskyy] whose country has been facing down the bloodiest invasion in Europe since World War II, Penn appreciated the extraordinarily historic weight of this moment and understood, from that moment on, the world had changed,” she continued.
Penn also spoke with families and children whose lives had been impacted by the latest war and even went into the front lines, witnessing “soldiers putting their lives on the line,” women who have “taken up arms to become snipers” and “children training to defend their country.”
The Flag Day actor also takes a look at the past in the documentary, talking with veterans from the 2014 Russian invasion of Ukraine including a widow who lost her husband at Maidan, musicians in Kyiv bracing themselves for Putin’s attacks and key political players.
According to the press release, SUPERPOWER shows Zelenskyy "as a leader stepping up to embrace his country’s destiny” and becoming a “crucible of history” through his leadership in his country’s current conflict with Russia.
“Amid moments of levity, inspiration and on-the-ground storytelling, the film shows that Ukraine’s superpower lies in the strength of its leader, its people and ultimately its heart,” it continued.
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The film was financed by FIFTH SEASON and VICE News and is produced by VICE Studios and Projected Picture Works alongside Penn, Billy Smith, Sergei Bespalov, Danny Gabai and Lauren Terp.
SUPERPOWER premieres exclusively on Paramount+ on Monday, September 18.
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