‘Openly neglected by an obscene administration’: Sean Penn criticises Trump’s handling of pandemic | Cannes 2021

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Sean Penn has criticised Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, likening the former president’s approach to someone opening fire on vulnerable communities.

Speaking at a press conference following the premiere of his new film, Flag Day, Penn said:

“We were — not only as a country, but as a world – let down and openly neglected, misinformed. We had truth and reason assaulted under what was in all terms an obscene administration.

“When my team and I would come home from test and vaccinations sites at night, particularly during testing under Trump, to maddening news — it felt like someone with a machine gun gunning down communities that were most vulnerable from a turret at the White House.”

Sean Penn and his daughter, Dylan. Photograph: Lionel Hahn/Getty Images

Penn, who wore a mask when he was not speaking, said he was optimistic about the future under the new administration.

“In the transition to the task force that President Biden put together, it was really that feeling like a sun was rising. There was no effort of integrity coming from the federal government until the Trump administration was dismissed.”

Earlier this year Penn, who has always made his concept for Trump evident, described him as “a man who all would concede is guilty of negligent homicide on a grand scale.”

Penn is the founder of non-profit organisation Community Organized Relief Effort, which aims to focus fundraising and relief efforts wherever they are urgently required. CORE recently devoted considerable resource to hastening testing and vaccination efforts in New York and India.

Flag Day, in with Penn stars alongside real-life daughter, Dylan, and son, Hopper, as a con-man with a complicated relationship with his children, has been warmly received at the festival. The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw hailed it as a return to form following the widely-ridiculed The Last Face, which premiered to boos and laughter five years ago.

“As an actor he’s still got the chops,” wrote Bradshaw, “a fierce masculine presence, a buzzard-like watchfulness always liable to break into a scornful grimace or lethal grin. His seductive address to the camera is almost unrivalled. Moreover, as a director, he knows how to bring the horsepower. And so it proves in this very watchable and well-made family drama.”

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