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Actor-filmmaker Sean Penn and his team of volunteers land in Haiti just days after a 7.0 earthquake strikes. Citizen Penn chronicles the ten relentless years in which Penn and his team took over the management of the largest camp for displaced people in the country.
Don Hardy is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and storyteller. His previous work includes Theory of Obscurity, The Human Experiment, Love Hate Love, Witch Hunt and Pick of the Litter for Disney+ (Executive Producer/Showrunner/Director), based on the documentary of the same name which he produced and directed in 2018.
Film Review: Though they have different stakes, actor Sean Penn says, “making movies and emergencies are the same thing.” This slightly surreal documentary proves him right twice over. Heading an oddly assorted band of Haitian medics, British soldiers and apparently self-selected American volunteers, Penn spends more than a year relentlessly beating chaos into order in the wake of the massive Haitian earthquake of 2010, which left one-fifth of the country’s population dead, injured or homeless. Flooding, mudslides, cholera, political violence, and critical drug shortages are all overcome. A tougher nut is “toxic” competition among other aid organisations, most of which are perfectly happy to bring relief supplies into the general vicinity, but not to physically carry them that last crucial mile to the specific people who need them. Penn’s team literally go that extra mile, commandeering an abandoned army field hospital in a city refugee camp housing 60,000 people, and living there themselves. When the camp is relocated to a rural area, they clear 500,000 cubic metres of rubble from an urban neighbourhood, and continue their provision of free medical services there. Citizen Penn is a monument to the power of “elbow grease”, the triumph of character over politics and sheer goodwill. Dan MacCannell