Film takes on horrors of UN corruption, Michael Moore-style
News reports of corruption, negligence and poor judgment at the United Nations have left many shaking their heads at the international body in recent decades.
A new film by Ami Horowitz and Matthew Groff, set to premiere in select theaters on June 1, aims to trace the U.N.’s decline from an institution created in 1945 — “to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small … and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom, and for these ends to practice tolerance and live together in peace” — to one that would honor Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe as a “Global Leader for Tourism.”
Horowitz, a self-described right-of-center foreign policy hawk, explained that the film, “U.N. Me,” is meant as a visual op-ed directed in a fashion suited to capture Americans’ elusive attention spans.
“I knew this stuff going in, I just didn’t realize how deep the rabbit hole went,” Horowitz told The Daily Caller in an interview, noting that while he is more conservative, the rest of the film’s production crew are left-of-center.
Watch exclusive clip from “U.N. Me”:
Horowitz cited three central problems with the U.N.
“It comes down to three things. First of all, it is an incredibly opaque institution — they are essentially accountable to no one. That is a very dangerous combination for anything,” Horowitz said, adding that the two other elements make the mix even worse.
“You have a bureaucracy that make up the United Nations where the good guys, and there are a lot of good guys, essentially live in a moral fog,” he told TheDC. “They have a moral blindness: They don’t take stands against people because they think its wrong to do — you don’t pass judgment.”
“Moral equivalency is also a big part of it. Also, the other side of the same coin is you have these bad actors — countries that are bad governments, bad states. … So you have all those things combine for this perfect storm.”
While Horowitz’s goal was to expose the U.N. for the “perfect storm” it has become, he also wanted it to be entertaining and humorous in the fashion of Michael Moore’s “Bowling for Columbine.”
“Say what you will about Michael Moore, the guy knows how to make an entertaining and powerful film,” Horowitz said.
From the beginning, Horowitz explained, he wanted “U.N. Me” to be funny.
“We are dealing with very difficult issues ultimately — very heavy stuff — and to do it without levity, I thought, would be a recipe for disaster. Nobody wants to sit there for 90 minutes and be preached at, watching terrible images across the screen, so I knew humor had to be a part of it,” he said, noting that the film brought in writers from “The Daily Show,” The Onion and Michael Moore movies for assistance.
Horowitz said his film, which was presented at the 2009 International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam, has already made enemies. Last October, he recalled, a man confronted him outside his Manhattan home and threatened him.
“Do you care more about your movie than about your wife and children?” the man asked.
Horowitz joked, however, that his demise would only do good things for the movie’s success.
According to Horowitz, there is no quick cure for what ails the U.N.
“I am not sure it is solvable. I think the rot is in the DNA — in the bones of this organization. We may need something new,” Horowitz told TheDC.
“But if you ask me, what I would recommend for this organization to give it one last try — I would say, ‘First of all, you have to create some kind of accountability and transparency. I think you have to immediately reform the Human Rights Council and only countries who abide by U.N. human rights should be allowed in. I think you need to toss out a couple bad actors, starting with North Korea.’ If they did that, it would be a good start.”
Horowitz’s film opens Friday in select theaters and On Demand.