Sean Penn Throws Support Behind Hollywood Writers, Says PGA Should Be Renamed “Bankers Guild”  

Sean Penn was unambiguous about where his allegiances lie when asked for his take on the ongoing Hollywood writers’ strike during the Cannes Film Festival press conference for Black Flies, the visceral paramedic action drama in which he stars opposite Ty Sheridan and Michael Pitt.

“The industry has been upending the writers and directors for a long time,” the actor said when asked by a journalist to weigh in on the WGA strike. “I fully support the situation with the writers, of course.”

“There’s a lot of new concepts being tossed about including the use of A.I.” he continued. “It strikes me as a human obscenity for a pushback on that from producers.”

Penn then quipped that the Producers Guild of America should be renamed “the bankers guild.”

“The first thing we should do in these conversations is change the Producers Guild and title them how they behave, which is the bankers guild,” he said. “It’s difficult for so many writers and people in the industry who cannot work.”

The discussion of Hollywood labor disputes was something of a diversion from the topic at hand during the press conference — namely, French filmmaker Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire’s Black Flies, a darkly immersive portrayal of New York first responders, which received a five-minute standing ovation after its Cannes premiere the night prior. But the topic of supporting workers also gelled with many of the movie’s themes.

Adapted from Shannon Burke’s 2008 novel of the same name, Black Flies follows troubled rookie paramedic Ollie Cross (Sheridan) who’s working night shifts as an emergency first responder on the streets of Brooklyn while struggling to study for medical school exams in his free time. Penn plays a grizzled veteran paramedic who takes Ollie under his wing as they race through the city facing medical and social crises of every kind. In its immersive and hyper-realistic portrayal of the physically grueling and emotionally battering work of first responders, the film also functions as an indictment of America’s inequality and failing social safety systems.

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