Sometime Bay Area resident Sean Penn is reportedly in Ukraine helping to film a documentary about the Russian invasion for VICE Studios.
As The Hill is reporting, via Newsweek, that Penn landed back in Kyiv on Thursday, just as Russian forces began conducting airstrikes and other attacks in the country. Penn has been working on a documentary about Russian aggression in Ukraine since at least November 2021, and it's reportedly a VICE Studios production in association with VICE World News and Endeavor Content.
"The director [Penn] specially came to Kyiv to record all the events that are currently happening in Ukraine and to tell the world the truth about Russia's invasion of our country. Sean Penn is among those who support Ukraine in Ukraine today. Our country is grateful to him for such a show of courage and honesty," said the Ukrainian government in a statement released by the country's embassy to Newsweek.
The statement went on to praise Penn for doing what other Western governments are not doing in this crisis.
"Sean Penn is demonstrating bravery that many others have been lacking, in particular some Western politicians," the government says. "The more people like that — true friends of Ukraine, who support the fight for freedom — the quicker we can stop this heinous invasion by Russia."
Penn has not commented directly to the media, but the embassy released a photograph today of Penn sitting in on a press briefing by the Ukrainian government.
In 2010, Penn founded a nonprofit called Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE), which most recently helped hurry aid to victims of Hurricane Ida last summer, and has helped facilitate free COVID testing and vaccinations through the pandemic. The organization grew out of the need for relief efforts in Haiti following the major earthquake there in January 2010.
Penn's last known residence in the Bay Area was in Marin County — he and ex-wife Robin Wright sold their house in Ross in 2008, but Penn has still been around the Bay Area since then off and on. He was instrumental in facilitating the sale of Tosca Cafe — a longtime haunt of his — to new owners Ken Friedman and April Bloomfield in 2013. Tosca changed hands again in 2019 and reopened last winter under new chef Nancy Oakes.
Penn also notably used Tosca as a meeting spot in 2012 after he allegedly helped negotiate the 2011 release of two UC Berkeley grads who had been hiking in northern Iraq when they were captured and held for two years by the government of Iran and suspected of being spies.
Top image: Sean Penn last year in New York City. Photo by Gotham/GC Images