One doesn’t usually associate the Cannes Film Festival with politics and activism, but both were in the rainy air on Friday, when news hit the trade publications that Harvey Weinstein had acquired the documentary “The Oath of Tobruk,” French philosopher Bernard Henri-Levy’s film about the fall of Muammar Qadaffi, as well as “Code Name Geronimo,” action filmmaker John Stockwell’s dramatic feature about the search for Osama bin Laden. Speculation immediately ensued whether Weinstein would try to get Stockwell’s film into theaters before the November election – and before Kathryn Bigelow’s movie on the same subject – in order to bolster President Obama’s re-election effort.
Later on, Sean Penn – joined by the model Petra Nemcova and director Paul Haggis – held a press conference in advance of a fundraiser they are throwing tonight for their combined humanitarian efforts in Haiti. Penn, who traveled to the country immediately after the devastating earthquake in 2010 and has not left since, is focusing mostly on grass-roots efforts to make sure that Haiti’s newly elected president, Michel Martelly, has the time and resources he needs to solidify progress in health, education, infrastructure and civil society-building.
But he also had a suggestion for the president at home. Citing America’s history of African slaves fighting for their own freedom and autonomy, he said, “In tribute to that, it is time that our very elegant and formidable president of the United States stands side by side with this new hope and this new president in Haiti, Michel Martelly. I could see the presidents [meeting] perhaps in Florida, where there is a great … Haitian diaspora and where I think it would not be harmful to the efforts of the Democratic party in America and in Florida to enter that dialogue.”
When Haggis was asked for his opinion on what Washington could or should be doing, Haggis said, “I leave politics to those who know something about it. People like Sean.”
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