The Schmooze

Friday Film: What Is the UN Good For?

In his documentary, “U.N. Me,” opening in cities around the U.S. today, first-time filmmaker Ami Horowitz takes shots at the United Nations and most of them land squarely on target.

Horowitz charges that U.N. brass knew about the potential for genocide in Rwanda — and could have prevented it; that U.N. peacekeeping troops opened fire on innocent civilians in Côte d’Ivoire; that they dealt in white slavery in Bosnia, and that the oil for food program in Iraq was riddled with corruption. Almost everything he accuses the organization of has been reasonably well documented. There was even a fictional film, “The Whistleblower,” starring Rachel Weisz, about Bosnian peacekeepers’ sexual improprieties.

But rarely is so much misconduct offered in so little time and, frankly, so humorously. Perhaps nothing is funnier, in an ironic way, than the decision to have Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the keynote speaker at a 2009 U.N. anti-racism conference.

Horowitz grew up in a conservative Jewish family in Los Angeles — his mother was Israeli — attended the University of Southern California, and intended to go into politics. But when the first candidate he worked for lost, he detoured into investment banking until he became so enraged by what he felt were U.N. shenanigans that he decided to make this film. He spoke to the Forward’s Curt Schleier about getting into the film business, cage fighting, and what the U.N. does right.

Curt Schleier: This film is a pretty powerful screed against the U.N. Does the organization do anything good?

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Friday Film: What Is the UN Good For?

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