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Benighted Nations

Courtesy “U.N. Me”
Director Ami Horowitz (above) demonstrates his appreciation for the tough work the United Nations is doing in Côte d’Ivoire. Horowitz juxtaposes humor with serious foreign policy questions in what he describes as “docu-tainment.”

“Conservatives have done a very poor job in media with the exception of talk radio and cable news,” he said. 

Years ago, the left ceded talk radio to the right, he said, and the result has “been damaging” for liberals. “The same is happening in entertainment and film,” but this time it’s conservatives who are losing ground. He insisted that the implications are “huge” for Republicans who want to reach young voters. 

Horowitz decided that using humor was the best way to get his message across, even though he didn’t have a “jonesing” for the genre. “If you’re talking about issues that are important, you need to be part of that political dialogue,” he said.

In “U.N. Me,” Horowitz used the storyline of an ordinary man taking on a sprawling bureaucracy, offering a right-of-center critique on why the U.N.’s “reputation doesn’t seem to reflect its grand mission.”

He said his objective is to push lawmakers to demand more transparency and accountability from Turtle Bay. By not demanding oversight, he said, Congress acts like an “enabler” for a “drug addict,” offering billions in taxpayer dollars without demanding results.

“I want to know what my money is being spent on,” he said. “We need to start getting serious about fundamental reform.” 

‘Slick and Snarky’

Among the film’s many laugh lines, he backs up his demands with plenty of serious commentary from prominent conservatives. 

Horowitz interviewed several Republican Members of Congress — including Sen. Mark Kirk (Ill.) and former Rep. Rob Simmons (Conn.) — about counterterrorism,  the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Iranian nuclear program. He also spoke with former Sen. Norm Coleman (Minn.) about the controversial Oil-for-Food program. 

Democratic Members, he said, weren’t interested in participating.

Criticism of the U.N. sometimes cuts across party lines, particularly on scandals as egregious as the Oil-for-Food mess, which involved the Iraqi government profiting from oil sales intended to fund humanitarian needs. And Horowitz insisted he “did not want to make the film political” in a way that it would appeal only to right-leaning audiences (although he admits it contains a few “red meat” issues for Republicans).

He also pointed out that most of his crew and many of the U.N. officials he interviewed are liberals and that the film has been embraced by critics across the political spectrum.

The Los Angeles Times called the movie “slick and snarky.” The Washington Post noted that “his barbs draw blood.”

“That’s the heart of liberal media,” he said. “I couldn’t be more tickled pink.” 

Ultimately, though, he said the success of the project will depend on whether audiences enjoy what they see. 

“I wanted to make something I wanted to watch. If I didn’t want to see it, I didn’t want to show it,” Horowitz said.

Horowitz said he has no concrete plans for his next project, but he has definitely caught the media bug. “I think there is a world of material that needs to be exposed,” he said.

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