American actor Sean Penn supported the strike of Hollywood screenwriters at the festival in Cannes, France. The fact that, despite their wishes, film studios refuse to limit the extent to which artificial intelligence can work with the texts of real professionals, the 62-year-old Oscar winner describes as “humanly obscene”.
“There’s a lot of talk now about the use of artificial intelligence. I find it humanly disgusting that producers refuse to consider screenwriters in this regard,” Penn said on Friday.
Disagreement over the use of artificial intelligence is just one of the reasons why the Screenwriters Guild of America failed to reach an agreement with representatives of studios and streaming platforms in the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers in early May. The production of new films and series in Hollywood has stopped after 15 years due to the declared strike. And the problems don’t end there. As AP adds, the directors’ and actors’ associations are also starting to negotiate new collective agreements with producers. The latter put its members to a vote this week on whether to declare a mandatory strike.
“Studios have been coughing on screenwriters, actors and directors for a long time. The first thing we should do is rename the producers’ association to the bankers’ association, because that’s exactly how they behave,” commented Sean Penn. “For a lot of people, not only screenwriters, it’s very difficult that they can’t work now. It will work out somehow, we just have to wait which side can hold out longer,” he adds.
However, the American actor did not come to the French Riviera to talk about the strike, but to present a new thriller called Black Flies. In this grim drama, Penn played the lead role alongside Tye Sheridan of sci-fi Ready Player One fame. The film takes place in New York and tells about the medical workers there.
Shannon Burke’s book called 911 served as a model for the French director Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire. In it, the author described what he experienced as a paramedic when he intervened in an ambulance around New York’s Harlem district in the mid-1990s, which was plagued by the abuse of crack, a cocaine-based drug.
Sean Penn in Cannes supported the strike of Hollywood screenwriters. | Photo: Reuters
In the film, Sean Penn plays veteran medic Rutkovsky, who, among other things, intervened in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and who has had several broken marriages. Tye Sheridan portrayed the inexperienced youngster Ollie. The two have already met on the set once, in 2011 they acted together in the drama Tree of Life.
The news also features former boxer Mike Tyson in the role of the head of the medical staff, Michael Pitt, known from the movie Funny Games USA, or actress Katherine Waterston, who drew attention to herself with the film Inherent Vice.
According to the British newspaper Guardian, in the film, medical professionals witness a shootout between gangs, domestic violence, the death of homeless people or a situation where a crack addict woman gives birth in a shack with a syringe still stuck in her arm. The heroes repeatedly intervene with half-dead people, around whom black flies are already beginning to swarm in the dilapidated buildings. Despite several strong moments, the story is full of clichés and unnecessary machismo, completely neglects women in the roles of nurses and generally just recycles what has already been seen, criticizes the Guardian.
According to Indiewire.com, the film pays tribute to healthcare workers and shows the everyday reality of American healthcare without embellishment. Sean Penn gives a top-notch performance at times as a man who hides a big heart under a tough shell. But the frantically shot film does not quite hold together and the subtler message ultimately lies in the constant scream of sirens, death and violence, the magazine thinks.
Black Flies is one of 21 titles vying for the top prize, the Palme d’Or, at the Cannes Film Festival. The winner will be announced next Saturday.
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