This will be one of many reviews during this year’s Mill Valley Film Festival, to keep up with our latest coverage, click here.
Sean Penn is easily one of the best actors of this generation though many perhaps know him more for some of his extracurricular activities, transforming from a reformed Hollywood bad boy to a massive philanthropist and humanitarian connected to the earthquake-ravaged country of Haiti. Citizen Penn is the latest documentary follows the actor’s efforts with disaster relief in Haiti after the country was hit with a 7.0 magnitude earthquake on January 12th, 2010. Once at a crossroads in his life, Penn saw the news and decided to take action, not for his own self-interest but simply for wanting to do the right thing. Nevertheless, the skepticism of his true intentions was inevitable. However, he persisted along with dozens of like-minded volunteers armed with good intentions. While they may not have known what they were doing at the time, suffice it to say that they learned on the job. It was certainly not easy as these people had clearly suffered as the earthquake left catastrophic levels of destruction in its wake.
Citizen Penn saw Penn recount his experiences as he leveraged his connections and essentially built the disaster relief organization J/P HRO (now known as CORE) from the ground up from his efforts. This organization has since become a thing of its own and continues to operate today. Meanwhile, there was just something about Penn telling stories with such enthusiasm was infectious and compelling to watch. At the end of the day, he may be the biggest name but he was just a small part of the overall movement. Though the movement did have its obstacles that continue to this day, the perseverance of these brave and dedicated individuals was inspiring to watch. In the end, perhaps a wider scope would have presented a more well-rounded experience.
If anything, Citizen Penn is definitely an eye-opening documentary whose controversial central figure will hopefully not scare people away from. The troubles in Haiti should not be an issue but they unfortunately still are.
stills courtesy of VIFF
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