Filmmaker, humanitarian, Sean Penn, at AmDocs 2024

Sean Penn to receive highest accolade at AmDocs 2024

The “Milk” and “Mystic River” star will screen his new doc “Superpower,” at the largest documentary and animation film festival on the West Coast March 21-25.

Sean Penn, one of the greatest actor-auteurs of his generation and committed humanitarian, not only headlines our festival this year but is also being honored with the Seeing The Bigger Picture award”

— Ted Grouya

PALM SPRINGS, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES, January 31, 2024 / — The American Documentary and Animation Film Festival (AmDocs) has announced two-time Oscar winner Sean Penn will headline Opening Night and screen his documentary, “Superpower,” on March 21, 2024 at the Palm Springs Cultural Center. This year’s event is presented by the Supple Foundation which supports cultural arts programs, events and scholarships throughout the Greater Palm Springs area.

The 13th Annual AmDocs, scheduled for March 21-25, will showcase a selection of over 200 films from around the world.

Penn’s film, “Superpower,” started as a feature on Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, but took a dramatic turn when Russia invaded Ukraine while Penn and his film team were in the country.

“Sean Penn, one of the most distinguished actor-auteurs of his generation and a committed humanitarian, is not only headlining our festival this year but also being honored with our highest accolade, the ‘Seeing The Bigger Picture’ award,” stated Ted Grouya, Director of AmDocs.

“This work provides a close-up perspective on Volodymyr Zelenskyy, offering an unfiltered view into the onset of the war. I believe our audience will resonate with the film’s narrative and Sean’s insights on the invasion of Ukraine.”

Penn has been nominated five times for an Academy Award®

Penn won his first Academy Award® in 2003 for the Clint Eastwood feature, “Mystic River.” In 2008, Penn won his second Oscar® for “Milk,” when he portrayed San Francisco Mayor Harvey Milk. Penn also earned nominations for “Dead Man Walking,”, “Sweet and Lowdown,” and “I Am Sam.”

In 1991, Penn made his directing debut with “The Indian Runner.” His 2007 film, “Into the Wild,” earned a Directors Guild of America nomination.

In addition to “Superpower,” there are other significant films screening at the festival including two which were on the shortlist for an Oscar® nomination.

“Oasis” is a story of brothers – one with developmental disabilities – as they come of age. “Wings of Dust” is about a Peruvian indigenous journalist who risks his life to protect the natural resources of ancestral lands. Actor Benjamin Bratt is one of the producers of “Wings of Dust” which won the 2023 gold medal at the Student Academy Awards®.

The 2024 festival will be the 13th consecutive year of the event, which has attracted and honored top filmmakers such as Oscar®-winners Oliver Stone (Platoon, Born on the 4th of July), Michael Moore (Bowling for Columbine), and John G. Avildsen (Rocky, Karate Kid) as well as acclaimed artists, including Peter Bogdanovic, Dionne Warwick, Shia LaBeouf, Haskell Wexler, George Takei, Sacheen Littlefeather, Pierce Brosnan and others.

Alongside an extensive collection of documentary films, AmDocs presents a diverse selection of world-class animated works from various corners of the globe. Additionally, for the 2024 edition, there is a compelling new competition category featuring music videos.

AmDocs is proud to unveil a media partnership with KESQ, the ABC affiliate station in the Palm Springs area, for the 2024 event. This collaboration will feature the channel’s exceptional talent and highlight their top stories.

“We are excited to partner with KESQ, a staple of the Coachella Valley with skilled storytellers,” Grouya said. “They have been recognized by the Emmys® for many of their journalistic stories and we are honored to showcase some of their work.”

The KESQ stories to be featured at AmDocs will be “Troubled Waters: Colorado River Crisis” and “Troubled Waters: The Salton Sea Project,” which won an Emmy Award® in 2022.

“Documentaries and News are both about the same thing, using truth to enrich our communities. We are proud to be a part of AmDocs 2024, a great festival that Teddy Grouya and team built into a powerhouse, world-renown festival,” said Jerry Upham, General Manager at KESQ, which is part of Gulf California Broadcasting.

Before the festival kicks off, AmDocs is set to host two complimentary education outreach special screenings on dates to be determined. One will take place in collaboration with UC Riverside’s Palm Desert Campus as part of its Osher program, while the other will be held at the 420 Lounge, a cannabis lounge in Palm Springs.

Festival passes and tickets are now available at
Go to for the full schedule and synopses of films.

Theodore Grouya
American Documentary And Animation Film Festival
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