DUBAI // Oscar-winning Hollywood actor and activist Sean Penn has pulled out the Dubai International Film Festival.
The actor says trouble in Haiti, where he runs the J/P Haitian Relief Organization, had forced him to cancel plans to attend.
“I’m honoured to receive the Dubai International Film Festival Lifetime Achievement Award and had every intention of being there to accept it in person,” Penn said in a statement.
“Regrettably, the situation in Haiti has worsened and it was of utmost importance that I be there to secure the safety of my staff and the J/P HRO (the Haitian Relief Organisation) camp.”
Protests over a disputed presidential election brought the Haitian capital to a standstill last week and tensions continue to build as people await an appeal of the results of the November 28 election, the Associated Press (AP) has reported.
Mr Penn said he looked forward to attending Diff in the future.
A Conversation with Sean Penn, an event scheduled for this evening at Madinat Jumeirah, has been cancelled.
Fans who bought tickets to the public audience are being contacted by the Diff Box Office; they can either exchange their tickets for other Diff screenings or get a refund.
Shivani Pandya, the managing director of the Diff, said attendees had been looking forward to interacting with Mr Penn.
“We were expecting him, but we understand that he had to go to Haiti because he was concerned about his staff,” Ms Pandya told The National.
“We understand how dedicated he is to the cause and know he spends a lot of time there. We wish him all success in his efforts.”