Sean Penn slammed the Academy for declining to invite Volodymyr Zelenskyy to the 2022 Oscars, saying the decision inspired him to gift one of his own Oscars to the president of Ukraine.
“The Oscar is there in his office, and ready to be melted any time he wants to melt it,” the actor said during a press conference at Berlin International Film Festival. Gifting him the award was “a symbolic gesture between two friends… inspired by my continuing shame towards the leadership of the Motion Picture Academy in choosing to present Will Smith smacking Chris Rock rather than the greatest symbol of cinema and humanity living today,” he added. “Their loss.”
Last March, about a month into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the actor vowed to boycott the ceremony and “smelt [my Oscar] in public” if the producers did not include Zelenskyy in the telecast. In November, he gifted him the statuette during a visit to Kyiv.
“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 at the time. “When you win, bring it back to Malibu, because I’ll feel much better knowing there’s a piece of me here.”
The two-time Oscar winner was in Berlin to present “Superpower,” his new documentary about Zelenskyy’s leadership throughout the Ukraine war. Production on “Superpower” began in late 2021, with his first meeting with the president taking place on the eve of the invasion.
At the panel, Penn also spoke at length about the need to deliver more long-range precision missiles to the besieged country. On the subject of impartiality, he said, “This is not an unbiased film because this is not an unambiguous war.”
“The word propaganda can be used as a disparagement. As part of showing the truth of Ukraine’s absolute unity in pursuing all those things without which life is not worth living, then I’m very happy to be considered a propagandist,” the director continued. “We made an unapologetically biased film, because that was the true story we found.”
Watch the video from the press conference above.