U.N. Me

A glowing review from Brian Brooks at IndieWIRE of the documentary "U.N. Me," which had its world premiere last week here in Amsterdam. 

Brooks writes:

Hating the U.N. has long been a pet enemy of the far right in the United States and flashbacks to tired old diatribes about “creeping internationalism,” “loss of sovereignty,” “international socialism,” and those mysterious “black helicopters” instantly came to mind. I have heard about corruption at the U.N., and although any corruption is never acceptable, I assumed its extent was wildly exaggerated by American right-wingers who seem to think any engagement with the world community beyond the U.S. simply dictating the rules is tantamount to traitorship.

I have to say, this is one of those rare moments when a film seriously has challenged my personal view.

Attempting to detail all the examples and particulars of corruption covered by the film is impossible in one article, and a film about a remote peace keeping mission in a small African country – just one of the instances of wholesale failure covered in “U.N. Me” – on the surface may seem like a depressing bore. Yet, “U.N. Me” is surprisingly entertaining, employing Michael Moore-esque populist appeal in tackling a complex and not necessarily sexy topic as the U.N. Co-director Ami Horowitz goes in front of the camera, attempting to speak to officials.

The thing about this film is that it creates an exquisite dilemma for the generally left-leaning (and U.N. venerating) audiences at IDFA. On one hand, they are conditioned to treat any criticism of the United Nations as Brooks once did — as the purview of American conservatives. Horowitz told me that the first questioner at the Friday night screening accused him of being a Bush puppet. 

On the other, the film’s human rights bona fides are unassailable. The film’s strongest parts are about Rwanda and Darfur, including an arresting section with Nobel Peace Prize winner Jody Williams, who blasts the U.N. in her typically unadulterated style. It’s awfully hard to dismiss the film as a front for neocons when its main concern is the killing of black Africans. 

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