Spotlighting a new film by director Sean Penn, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon yesterday underlined the importance of the entertainment industry to help raise awareness about the state of humanitarian affairs worldwide.

Ban Ki-moon, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O'Brien and actor Sean Penn, before the screening of The Last Face at the World Humanitarian Summit
Ban Ki-moon, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O'Brien and actor Sean Penn, before the screening of The Last Face at the World Humanitarian Summit
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“When you have a global star, [the message] can go far and wide and there is no time limit,” Mr. Ban told viewers invited to the global premiere of Mr. Penn’s latest movie, The Last Face.

Screened on the eve of the opening of the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) in Istanbul, Turkey, a two-day conference dedicated to finding more effective ways of alleviating and preventing the suffering of the world’s most vulnerable people, the movie features Academy Award-winning actors Charlize Theron and Javier Bardem as relief workers faced with difficult situations during civil unrest in an African nation.

“The main purpose of having the World Humanitarian Summit for the first time in the history of the United Nations is to raise [awareness on the] importance, seriousness, urgency and gravity of the situation,” said Mr. Ban, adding that world leaders must be committed to global action.

He recalled a visit to Haiti after the devastating earthquake of 2010, when he met tens of thousands of people living under extremely difficult conditions in makeshift tents. Amid the chaos, he noticed a very busy man who was trying to help those around him recover. He didn’t immediately recognize him, but later realized it was Sean Penn.

“I didn’t expect such a celebrity, a movie star of the world, would be around so many refugees and displaced people. I was so moved,” the UN chief shared with the audience, which burst into applause.

“When I went [to Haiti] a second time, he was still there,” he added.

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