While filming his documentary “U.N. Me,” Ami Horowitz learned that he is crazier than he thought.
“I never realized that I would be willing to do the things that I did, like walking onto a stage full of hundreds of diplomats and hijack a conference,” Horowitz said during a recent interview with ovalpike.com. “I did not know that I would stay in a place where my life was actually threatened. I learned that I am willing to take risks in order to entertain an audience.”
In “U.N. Me,” which opens June 1 exclusively at Harkins Shea 14, Horowitz and his fellow documentary filmmaker Matthew Groff set out to expose the incompetence and corruption at the heart of the United Nations, showing how an organization created to ennoble mankind now actually enables evil and sows global chaos.
“It begins when I was a small boy in a small town,” Horowitz joked. “Actually, it was an epiphany – an honest to God lightbulb moment. One day I was sitting around watching Michael Moore’s ‘Bowling for Colombine’ and I started thinking about how in this day and age – the 20th century – while I am sitting here comfortably in Manhattan, people in Sudan and Rwanda are running for their lives.”
That thought did not sit well with Horowitz. The more he thought about it, the more upset he got. His thoughts then naturally shifted to the United Nations – the organization that was created to stop such atrocities. Looking back over at Moore’s movie, he suddenly became motivated to quit his job as an investment banker and make a movie.
“The decision to make it entertaining was really one of the first decisions I made on the movie,” Horowitz explained. “It seemed really obvious to me that if I wanted people to see this movie, I had to play by the rules. And those rules are that people want to be entertained. Is it a good thing that more people under 25 get their news from ‘The Daily Show’ than anywhere else? No, but it is what it is.”
Therefore, Horowitz took risks and, in doing so, instilled “U.N. Me” with humor. Speaking of which, the filmmaker believes that it is much easier to make an audience cry than it is to make them laugh. However, he said that perhaps the even bigger challenge he was faced with over the course of the production was merely staying alive.
“We were filming in West Africa, exposing a United Nations’ peacekeeper’s slaughter of civilians, and I walked into my hotel room to find a picture of a guy with his head blown off on my pillow,” Horowitz explained. “It was a not-too-subtle reminder that I did not belong there. Getting the crew to stick around was a challenge after that.”
On the eve of the movie’s release, Horowitz acknowledges that the United Nations is “conspicuously radio silent.” He believes that officials are waiting to see how it all plays out. For example, if “U.N. Me” is a flop, they are unlikely to say or do anything. However, if it is a success, they are going to go into damage control mode.
“I know for a fact that the United Nations actually has a team in place to do damage control when the movie comes out if need be,” Horowitz said. “Those are our taxpayer dollars hard at work. By the way, this is not an anti-U.N. film. This is my love letter to the U.N. This is me telling the U.N., ‘If you want to survive, you had better change. Here are your warts and your problems. Fix them.’”
“U.N. Me” (PG-13 – 90 minutes) opens June 1 exclusively at Harkins Shea 14. Visit FirstLook.com for specific showtimes.