Sean Penn praises tsunami documentary
By Angela Doland, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Musician Bono and American actor, director and Cannes jury president Sean Penn arrive for the premiere of the film "The Third Wave" during the 61st International film festival in Cannes, southern France. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Francois Mori
CANNES, France - Sean Penn used his clout as head of the Cannes Film Festival jury to issue a presidential proclamation: See this documentary.
Penn's pick, added to the festival roster at his special request, is a low-budget documentary filmed by volunteers who went to Sri Lanka to help victims of the 2004 tsunami. Rocker Bono, filmmaker Michael Moore and actresses Natalie Portman and Faye Dunaway showed up at the movie's premiere Friday.
Introducing "The Third Wave," the "Into the Wild" director called it provocative and encouraging.
"In lieu of the fact that governments don't seem to be able to help us, this gives you a textbook notion of how we can help ourselves," Penn said.
"The Third Wave" was directed by Alison Thompson, who chronicled her journey to Sri Lanka just days after the tsunami hit.
The focus is on Thompson and three other people from various countries and walks of life, who all settled in badly hit Peraliya. The coastal town, hit by a 12-metre wave, was where a train with more than 1,000 people aboard was swept away by the tsunami.
Entirely on their own initiative, and without help from traditional aid agencies or the government, the volunteers searched for bodies, built shelters, dug toilets and set up an infirmary.
They also used nontraditional tactics, such as handing out large sums of cash to some families and not others, without consulting village elders first - tactics that bred jealousy among villagers and nearly derailed all their efforts. Some villagers revolted and threatened them.
"We had to just learn, there's a bigger picture here, we need to love," Thompson said. "We showed them so much love, and after a while they looked at us and were like, 'Why are you still being nice to us?' and they fell at their feet and they cried and said, 'Please forgive us.' "
Czech model Petra Nemcova - who was injured when the tsunami hit Thailand and whose boyfriend, photographer Simon Atlee, was killed in the disaster - brought the film to Penn's attention.
"This documentary is about amazing people who took action and shows us that any of us, we can bring light to people's lives," she said.
Penn's jury, including Portman, Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron and graphic novelist Marjane Satrapi, will award the festival's main prize, the Palme d'Or, on May 25. "The Third Wave" is not up for the top prize.
There are a ton more pics at GettyImages
Article source: here, via @u2.com