The Last Face, which opens in cinemas across South Africa on 7 April, centres around the love affair between Dr. Miguel Leon (Academy Award winner, Javier Bardem), a relief-aid doctor, and Dr. Wren Petersen (Academy Award winner, Charlize Theron), the director of an international aid organisation

Set against the devastating backdrop of war-torn Liberia, Miguel and Wren must find a way to keep their relationship alive in extraordinarily difficult conditions battling their mutual passion for the value of life matched by the intensity of their diametrically opposed opinions on how best to solve the conflict that surrounds them. Directed by two-time Academy Award winner Sean Penn, The Last Face also stars Primetime Emmy nominee Jared Harris, and celebrated French actors Jean Reno and Adele Exarchopoulos.

For decades, politics, power and corrupt governments scrambling for mineral rich territories, have given rise to civil war in Africa

For decades, politics, power and corrupt governments scrambling for mineral rich territories, have given rise to civil war in Africa and created conflict zones where the scale of destruction is now unimaginable.

Hundreds and thousands of people have been slaughtered in military coups, are emotionally destroyed through rape and gender-based violence, and have been victims of unspeakable human rights violations.

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The civilians who have managed to survive the decimation have been forced to flee to safety from rebels sowing terror in their regions, making up more than nine million refugees and internally displaced people without the resources to form a new life. It is a suffering that knows no end.

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Extraordinary love

The Last Face is brought to the screen by a group of filmmakers and actors who all happen to be humanitarians in their own right and unquestionably this resonance was their motivation to work with very the difficult material.

At the centre of this mayhem is the extraordinary love of two individuals who have made their lives a career in humanising the human condition, and how they keep their love alive in the atrocities that their work takes them to. The narrative incorporates very grave, current and global issues.

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Given his profile as a multiple award-nominated director and one of the greatest actors of his generation, together with his prominence as a humanitarian, Sean Penn has the facility to elevate the level of attention to this subject.

“We forget that refugees have been doctors and nurses and lawyers, and all of a sudden with no good reason they are displaced and have nowhere to go, and all they have to start again is with the clothes on their back.”

“I think ‘The Last Face’ will sensitize audiences to that condition and open people’s hearts to helping”

“I think The Last Face will sensitise audiences to that condition and open people’s hearts to helping,” says producer Bill Gerber.

Penn has generously lent his time and used his celebrity to fight and be an on-the-ground advocate for numerous social and political causes, as well as natural disasters such as Haiti’s earthquake and Hurricane Katrina – where he was physically involved in rescue.

At the 2012 ‘World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates’, the actor was honoured with the prestigious Peace Summit Award for his ongoing charitable efforts in Haiti.

See The Last Face in cinema across South Africa from 7 April.