Our oldest daughter Jennifer, who studies cultural anthropology at Arizona State University, came home with passes to a new movie the other night — a Disruptive Pictures film called “U.N. Me” that’s written, directed and produced by Ami Horowitz and Matthew Groff.
It’s billed as an expose of corruption and incompetence within an international organization meant to promote world peace and universal human rights. As most folks know, the U.N. was founded in 1942.
The topic holds special interest for our family since Jennifer has long dreamed of working with the U.N. Our kids first learned of the U.N. during grade school, while participating in the Trick-or-Treat for Unicef program.
Watching something so scathing was downright depressing. Unlike other films tackling tough issues such as failings in education, health care inequities, climate change and bullying, this movie left me feeling numb instead of moved to action.
I remember seeing “Bully” and wondering why such a significant portion of the film followed the advocacy of those whose lives were touched in tragic ways. Wasn’t it obvious that those who recognized the problem would be moved to act?
The wisdom of “Bully” filmmakers Lee Hirsch and Cynthia Lowen grows more evident as the credits for “U.N. Me” roll. Viewers see a single sentence directing them to make a difference by visiting the movie’s website, but there’s little reassurance that taking individual action can effect change.
“An Inconvenient Truth,” a film directed by David Guggenheim that explored Al Gore’s concerns about human contributions to global climate change, left me feeling a lot more empowered thanks to practical tips shared near the end of the film.
Plenty of folks who see “U.N. Me” — including those who embrace its premises — will never visit the film’s website. But there’s plenty they can do in their daily lives to fight violations of human rights. Arizona offers plenty of examples.
“U.N. Me” follows Horowitz as he talks with people from various nations who have current or former U.N. ties, plus experts in areas such as genocide and nuclear proliferation. Nobel laureate Jody Williams is the most compelling by far.
I’m not wild about the flippant approach Horowitz takes during the film. His comedic forays distract from the deadly serious subject matter. And having spent more than a decade in investment banking, Horowitz will strike many among “the 99%” as an unlikely prophet for all things pure and good.
It’ll be too easy for those who oppose the U.N., especially those who do so for political gain, to use this film to indict every U.N. program and person affiliated with the organization. Or to walk away from the personal responsibility each of us bears for two words at the heart of the film — never again.
Note: “U.N. Me” is currently showing at Harkins Shea 14 Theatre in Scottsale
Coming up: Remembering Anne Frank, Student art meets Arizona history