Documentary Exposes Bureaucratic Corruption Running Rampant in U.N.
- Thursday, May 31, 2012
You had literally no filmmaking experience before this. Talk a little bit about how you went about starting the whole process.
It was interesting – I’m one who [likes] to do things I’ve never done before. I never studied business or finance and I became an investment banker, and I figured if I could do that I could probably do the same thing with filmmaking. So that’s what I did. I put together a game plan on how to pursue it – essentially hiring the highest quality people in the business, the best of breed in filmmaking. I made a list of documentaries I liked the most and hired the people who made them, and we called together cinematographers and writers and my co-director, [Matthew Groff], and we made this picture.
Going into your investigations, did you have any idea the extent of the things you would discover? What were maybe the one or two most shocking or surprising things you came across?
I would say that we had a pretty good sense – I knew the U.N. was not a great place going in. I just didn’t realize how deep the rabbit hole went. And that’s what blew me away. I think the two things on top of my head that were unbelievable were that Boutros Boutros-Ghali – who was Secretary General at the time in Rwanda and was obviously criticized heavily for not doing anything during the genocide, not taking action to stop it when he could have –was funding the Hutus, the genocidaires, giving them weapons, right before he became Secretary General. It was out there but people didn’t pick up on it. That really blew me away. And the notion that [the U.N.] still can’t define terrorism – that’s insane. I mean, you can’t define what terrorism is? Except, of course, when it’s Israel – then of course they can define terrorism pretty well. But all the shocking and crazy stuff, I knew it would be too bitter a pill just to put it to a documentary … which is why we hired some of Michael Moore’s writers, writers from The Onion, top-notch entertainment and comedy guys, to put together this really good package.
Do you think the U.N. can be saved? What can be done to help?
You know, the movie does not call for a solution. It wasn’t just lazy filmmaking, why we didn’t put the answer in, but I prefer this to be a bottom-up approach, not a top-down approach. In other words, I’d rather the audience come up with their own solutions for what we need to do. What I did push – what our website is going to be all about – is that Congress really could make a difference here. Congress controls the purse-strings of America, and they are the ones who are able to say to the U.N., “If you don’t reform, we’re going to cut your funding.” So if there’s a chance for reform, it has to come through Congress being really resolute and steadfast on cutting back funding. If you ask me whether I think reform will happen, I wouldn’t hold my breath.
U.S. taxpayers give the U.N. $8.5 billion dollars a year, which is a huge number.
And I’m sure that number now, by the way – we don’t have the 2011 number yet – is much higher.
What do you want viewers to take away from the film?
Here’s what: I felt really small, I felt insignificant – which I’m sure a lot of people will feel after they see this movie – and I made a difference; each individual can make a difference. And I don’t want them to think that calling their congressman or senator means nothing. It’s a powerful way to get Congress to do what I just said about cutting back funding. So I don’t want people to feel like they’re powerless – you can make a difference as an individual. I chose [this] path, you can choose a different path. But the whole idea is choose one, because it will have an effect. And of course, the most important thing is go see the movie on June 1.
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