Every once in a while, I watch a movie that I hate. U.N. Me is just such a movie. I hated watching it but I have to recommend that others see this movie. Why? Because I believe that even if the truth is brutally hard to digest, it’s better than ignorance. I hated what was in this film, but not that it was made.
U.N. Me, written, produced and directed by Matthew Groff and Ami Horowitz, is an expose’ of the failure of the United Nations’ to protect human rights. And while there is some mention that the U.N. has often done well providing humanitarian relief, the film’s focus is on a level of incompetence and evil that is hard to stomach. Thankfully, Horowitz’s, who stars in his film, weaves in levity through brazen wit and sarcasm, making an otherwise depressing movie entertaining.
Surprisingly, Ami’s creative expression does not come up through the ranks of Hollywood. He worked as an investment banker for twelve years. Such a change of life occupation would suggest he has guts, and his onscreen chutzpa proves it. Ami conducts investigations and confronts corruption on a level to satisfy the viewer. We hate that this is the truth but we love that Ami is on it.
Through interviews with past employees, ambassadors, and U.N. officials, U.N. Me reveals abuses and repeated failures to protect the dignity of human beings. For instance, they were not trying to protect human dignity in Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast, Africa) when 50-60 unarmed peaceful demonstrators were shot and killed or when Rwanda was awash in the blood of genocide. Ami shows how the “Oil for Food” program resulted in the wrong people benefiting from the program, and the film reveals that the U.N. ignored a report on atrocities in the Darfur region of Sudan.
And what was the U.N. trying to do when countries such as Pakistan, North Korea, Iran and others were given nuclear materials for an “energy assistance” program but instead built 40-megawatt heavy water reactors that have no other use except for building nuclear weapons?
As for terrorism, Ami gets U.N. officials to admit that they have no definition for it and thus, have never identify countries with terrorist ties. It should be no surprise to viewers then, that the head of the Human Right’s Commission has ties with terrorism.
At the bottom rungs are UN Peace Keeping soldiers and workers who are told they are not there to do a job but to lie on beaches and enjoy the chicks and beer. Then there are those at the top who feign ignorance of human rights violations or simply have a different definition of what that is. For instance, Ami interviews an Iranian diplomat who speaks of stoning people to death—justice to him, but clearly abuse to us.
What makes this movie bearable is Ami’s bold sarcasm and wit. He maneuvers his way into interviews with dignitaries who had tried to ditch him, slips onto a bus of UN personnel and makes wise cracks before trying to get everyone to sing “One Hundred Bottles of Beer on the Wall.” And as a grand finale, Ami steps up to the podium and scolds UN members for letting the world down. Like a predictable plot, the security officers move towards him to escort him out. But not before he has his quick indictment and humorous close–“Are there any questions?”
It would be easier to brush this film aside as not being personally relevant to us than to watch it. But it would also be easy not to be a Christian, if one did not want a personal relationship with Jesus. And it’s that personal relationship with Jesus that connects us to humanity on the bigger playing field—planet earth. That and the fact that American taxpayers help fund the $6 billion that the U.N. spends annually, makes this film relevant to all of us.
The best part of the movie? It’s that it was made. It’s a movie for people who don’t want to bury their heads in the sands of indifference. I hope that enough people see this movie to force the United Nations to stop burying their own collective heads. I hope. After all, the only thing worse than watching a movie I hate would be watching the sequel. I hope there won’t be one.
U.N. Me open in theaters across the country on June 1 and will be available simultaneously on video-on-demand. For more information go to U.N. Me .
Rated PG-13. 90 minutes