Sean Penn Documentary 'Citizen Penn' Coming to Discovery+ in May

Discovery+ has acquired the rights to the documentary Citizen Penn, according to Variety. The documentary follows Sean Penn’s (Mystic River, I Am Sam, Into the Wild, Milk) humanitarian efforts in Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake that ravaged the Ouest department, with an epicenter near the town of Léogâne. The documentary will premiere on the streaming platform on May 6.

About the doc: Sean Penn didn’t intend to stay in Haiti as long as he did 

The doc highlights Sean Penn, honing in on the work and responsibilities he took on to help those who suffered immensely following the 7.0 magnitude earthquake, which left over 200,000 people dead and approximately 5 million homeless. 

As Variety explained, Penn went to Haiti expecting to spend about two weeks there following the earthquake — he came to drop off supplies and help doctors as much as he could. Yet, what started as a small altruistic and charitable trip turned into an entire humanitarian organization. 

While in Haiti, Penn established J/P HRO (which is now known as CORE, or Community Organization Relief Effort). J/P HRO took over managing displaced individuals.

Today, CORE works with various communities impacted by or more vulnerable to crises than others; the organization operates internationally, stepping in to lend a hand when necessary. While Haiti remains the organization’s focus, CORE has since expanded its outreach to Puerto Rico, The Caribbean, and parts of the United States. The documentary makers also added the organization’s efforts to help with COVID-19 vaccination distribution. Speaking about CORE, Penn said: 

“From climate to conflict resolution, to poverty and Covid-19, citizenship increasingly requires service…Service itself can be a bumpy road, but one we all have to travel. Don Hardy traveled it with CORE (JP/HRO) for over a decade, and I hope his insightful filmmaking will find some form of inspiration for those who watch it. He shows the good, the bad, and the ugly.”

Who Is behind ‘Citizen Penn?’

The documentary was written and directed by Don Hardy — the award-winning documentary filmmaker known for Love Hate Love, Pick of the Litter, The Human Experiment, and more. 

Hardy is producing alongside Shawn Dailey, who has worked on a handful of documentary series and films with his company Bistro Projects. The doc also features an original score by Linda Perry and a new song written by Perry and Bono (for the film) and performed by Bono. When speaking about the film, Hardy shared: 

Citizen Penn is a film about how you build an airplane while it’s already in the air and how you keep it flying after it has grown bigger than you ever imagined. Hopefully, CORE’s work will inspire others to step forward to help – volunteer, donate, get involved. This is not a time to stand on the sidelines.”

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