FNE at Cannes 2021: Competition: Flag Day

    Flag Day by Sean Penn Flag Day by Sean Penn copyright: 2021 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.

    CANNES: Sean Penn arrives in Cannes with Flag Day, a film that he both directs and acts in. Truly a family affair the film also stars his daughter Dylan Penn, who also plays his daughter in the film.

    Penn is no stranger to Cannes, where he has been in competition three times already, with Indian Runner in 2000, The Pledge in 2001 and The Last Face in 2016. Perhaps the poor critical reception of The Last Face explains why it has taken Penn five years to make his return to the festival competition.

    The story is based on the book Film-Flam Man, the memoires of Jennifer Vogel the daughter of one of the greatest history. The film takes its name from 14 July which is John Vogel’s birthday and the day that commemorates the adoption of the American flag.

    Her father, John Vogel, played by Penn, was larger than life who had the ability to make everyone around him feel like life was a great adventure. The book and the film is based on a true story and much of it centres on the relationship between father and daughter and the performances of Dylan and Sean Penn as father and daughter make this an especially intimate film. Hopper Jack Penn plays Jennifer’s brother. The film was written by scriptwriters Jez and John-Henry Butterworth.

    Speaking at the press conference Dylan spoke about working with her father saying “This is my boss and at the same time at the end of the day he’s also my father so we had a complex relationship during the filming.” Penn spoke about finding the character through starting with an image and about the images that came to him when he read the book.

    The real life story in the book is set in Minneapolis in the 1970s and 1980s which was described as a world where everything moved at a slower pace. The film was shot in Manitoba Canada, which filled in for Minneapolis.

    Jennifer Vogel speaking at the press conference said “I wanted to see my story in good hands and Sean has such an affinity for the underdog.” Penn also spoke during the press conference about the Trump era. Speaking about Trump he said “as a country we were let down” calling the Trump administration an “obscene administration”. “In the transition to the taskforce that Biden put together it was a feeling that a sun was rising, there was a pre-buy which was important. There was no effort coming from the federal government until after the Trump administration was dismissed.” He went on to say “We are living in a time when we’re seeing the enormous price we pay for not emphasizing our empathy.”

    Ultimately Flag Day is very much a film about empathy and finding a way for father and daughter to get along with each other while at the same time a film about the daughter finding a way to come to terms with what her father is and get on with her own life.


    Flag Day (USA)
    Directed by Sean Pen

    Cast: Sean Penn, Dylan Penn, Josh Brolin, Norbert Leo Butz, Dale Dickey, Eddie Marsan, Bailey Noble, Hopper Jack Penn, Katheryn Winnick