Sean Penn’s “Superpower,” the actor’s upcoming documentary about Ukraine’s fight to maintain its freedom from Russia, is set to premiere on September 18. The film will be available to watch exclusively on Paramount+.
Co-directed by Penn and Aaron Kaufman, the documentary features several interviews between Penn and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky over the production’s seven trips to the country over the past two years. The film chronicles the months before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the hours leading up to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to launch rockets into Kyiv and the devastating aftermath.
“Superpower” has followed an unconventional road. Filming started in 2021, and at the time, the documentary was intended to be a deep dive into Zelensky, an actor and comedian who played a president on TV before becoming Ukraine’s actual president. But while Penn was filming in Kyiv, Russia’s army attacked the capital, forever changing history.
“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,” said Penn. “When you step into a country of such incredible unity, you realize what we (in the United States) have all been missing.”
“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. “Being in the president’s bunker the night of the invasion to speak firsthand with Zelensky 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.”
“Superpower” was first previewed during the Berlin International Film Festival while it was still in production.
The film was financed by Fifth Season and Vice News. Vice Studios and Projected Picture Works produced it alongside Penn, Billy Smith, Sergei Bespalov, Danny Gabai and Lauren Terp. Kate Ward, Katie Peck, Andrew Freston, Bruce Dixon, Hozefa Lokhandwala, Subrata De, Susan Zirinsky, Terence Wrong, Anthony Gudas, Chad A. Verdi and Sasha Cherniavsky serve as its executive producers. Fifth Season will handle global distribution of the film.