discovery+, the definitive non-fiction, real-life subscription streaming service, announced today the acquisition and global launch of the award winning documentary CITIZEN PENN. With unprecedented access, director Don Hardy (“Pick of the Litter”) and his crew followed the humanitarian efforts of Sean Penn and a dedicated team of volunteers as they set up a long term base to bring aid to Haitians after the devastating 7.0 earthquake struck in 2010.
CITIZEN PENN joins other recently launched discovery+ originals, FRANCESCO (launching March 28) and upcoming films REBEL HEARTS, which premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, and SXSW Award winner INTRODUCING, SELMA BLAIR, both debuting later this year.
Premiering on discovery+ on May 6, CITIZEN PENN features an original score by award-winning, Songwriter Hall of Fame inductee Linda Perry which includes the original song, Eden (To Find Love), performed by Bono and co-written by Bono and Perry.
CITIZEN PENN chronicles the moment Penn and his team of volunteers landed in Haiti, just days after the earthquake struck, and the ten years since. The film offers viewers an intimate, honest, and self-reflective look into the triumphs and challenges of those who decided to do something. For Penn, Haiti changed his life. He went there for what he thought was a two-week aid mission to drop off supplies, help doctors provide immediate medical care, and then get out and get back to his normal life. Instead, he stayed and created an organization called J/P HRO (now CORE) that took over management duties for the largest camp for displaced people in the entire country.
Over the past few years, CORE has expanded its efforts across the United States, most recently organizing free COVID-19 testing sites across the country and running the nation’s largest vaccination site at Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles. CITIZEN PENN highlights the team and their current projects in the U.S.
“What Sean Penn and his team at CORE have been able to achieve is nothing short of remarkable. From a devastating earthquake in Haiti to the current situation with COVID-19 in the U.S., Don Hardy and Shawn Dailey captured the visceral urgency of their humanitarian work and stayed with the story for over decade, long after the national news crews all went home. It’s a privilege to share their incredible journey of grit, ingenuity and perseverance on discovery+ during a moment in time the world needs it most. CITIZEN PENN is about rolling up your sleeves and getting the job done, no matter who you are or where you come from” says Igal Svet, Vice President, Documentaries, discovery+.
Sean Penn commented, “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.”
Don Hardy added, “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.”
Originally set to premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival 2020, the film won the Audience Choice Award at the Heartland Film Festival and played AFI Fest, Raindance and the Vancouver International Film Festival, among others.
CITIZEN PENN, a discovery + original; written and directed by Don Hardy; produced by Hardy and Shawn Dailey; executive produced by Ellen Fair, Kim Forbes Tramel, Dan Braun and Josh Braun; Original Score by Linda Perry, with an original song, “Eden: To Find Love,” written by Perry and Bono, and performed by Bono.