Six months after a devastating earthquake struck Haiti, the stories are still bleak-rubble still not being cleared, tarp-and-tent camps expanding as 1.6 million people remain homeless. And some frustration has been expressed that President Rene Preval recently awarded medals to celebrities like Anderson Cooper and Sean Penn, dubbing them Knights of the National Order of Honor and Merit.
It's easy to sit all these many miles away and wonder if newsmen and actors are in it for the right reasons. After all, some stars will do anything for publicity. But if you've got any doubt that Sean Penn's heart is in the right place, we're here to clear things up.
We recently participated in a telephone interview with The Bourne Identity director and Covert Affairs producer Doug Liman. He has personally spent time in Haiti with the Milk Academy Award winner. He explained Penn's dedication to the rebuilding of the ravaged country:
"The really interesting thing is when I first got there with Sean it was right after the earthquake, nobody was living inside. Everybody was living in a tent. Most people were living on the runway, one of the taxiways at the airport because that was sort of semi-safe. Where Sean was out in the middle of Port au Prince at this… country club and the interesting thing was when I went back a month and a half ago, almost all the other non-profits down there, those people have all moved into homes or hotels. Sean is still in literally the exact same tent he was in in mid-January. It gives a real sense of urgency to helping these people when you yourself are living under the same conditions they are."
"I had the same kind of eye-rolling attitude about what is a movie star going to possibly accomplish in Haiti that I’m sure everyone on this call has hearing about it. I’m as cynical as they come. I hear about Edwards going down there handing out food and I’m like, 'That guy’s just trying to take focus away from his marriage.' I’m really as cynical as they come."
"What Sean is doing there is simply remarkable and inspirational. And personally inspirational that I live in New York City, I’m surrounded by people who work in non-profits, lawyers who do pro-bono work on the side, and I’m like, 'I’m a filmmaker. What can I really do?' Seeing what Sean is doing in Haiti, the two kinds of people that are operating best in that war zone is the military and the filmmakers who are down there. Filmmakers know how to go into an environment with minimal infrastructure, and get sh*t done."
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