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Serious fun

"Serious fun" Continued...

Some traditionalists might argue against Moore's satirical style of documentary making. They might say it robs the subject of its importance. What are your thoughts? We live in a world where for better or worse-probably worse-more Americans under 25 get their news from The Daily Show. That's not a good thing, but that's the reality. People simply don't want to take 90 minutes of medicine. So we really worked hard to try to amp up the comedy, even though we were dealing with a hard subject. We call it "docutainment." And a lot of the comedy in U.N. Me comes from the juxtaposition of two crazy things: the reality of what these [U.N. leaders] are saying and doing versus what the U.N. claims its mission and purpose for existing is. It's sad to say that sometimes it's so outrageous that it's funny.

To get a lot of those funny bits you had to put yourself in some really dangerous situations. You have interviews with the Sudanese ambassador to the U.N. and a member of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's inner circle, where they admit things they must wish they'd never said. We didn't have to get too confrontational with the interviews because the style we chose was less combative, where we pretended to agree with them.

I don't know if you're familiar with the film Borat and Sacha Baron Cohen's style of filmmaking, but he creates the character and the characters do the interviews, not Sacha Baron Cohen. So we thought we'd take a very similar route. To get access to these guys I basically had to pretend I was an anti-Israel, anti-American, self-hating Jew. And they loved that. That was right in their wheelhouse.

So we got crazy amounts of access to people like the Iranian ambassador of the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] in the Iranian Embassy in Vienna. And the Iranians have assassinated people in Vienna, so we were really nervous doing that. We went to the Sudanese Embassy to interview the Sudanese ambassador and got him to say some incredibly, incredibly ridiculous things-things that were hilarious and sad and pathetic at the same time.

So I would say things like, "Oh yeah, I agree with the fact that you're slaughtering people in the streets and hanging gay people and beating women. Yeah that's cool, tell me more about that." And most of those people you see on screen thought the interviews went well when they were over.

Still, there had to be risks both financially and otherwise in taking on this project. How did your wife feel about them? My wife is a saint, and not just concerning the money, though this was a big hit for us financially. And there was also a little bit of a physical risk for me, as well, [laughing] or maybe more than a little bit.

When we were in Côte d'Ivoire we uncovered a massacre where French U.N. peacekeepers killed unarmed Ivorians. I came back to my hotel room and found a picture of a guy with his head blown off on my pillow. So that was a none-too-subtle hint that we weren't wanted there. And we were shelled during a convoy at one point, and those were things that obviously scared us.

But I was sensitive enough not to tell her about everything that happened until after I was home safe and sound.

I read in another interview where you said, "I'm not trying to tell an impartial story. The only thing I'm responsible for is the truth." I thought this was particularly interesting, as it points out something that seems very antithetical to the U.N.'s thinking-that truth and impartiality are not at all the same thing and are often in direct opposition to one another. That's what I'm trying to get out about the U.N. Their slavery to impartiality is ludicrous. It doesn't make them amoral; it makes them immoral. And I think that's where people get confused. The only master I had [when making the documentary] was the truth, and the truth led me to the fact that the U.N. isn't working.

One of my favorite lines in the movie, and it came from a liberal think tank employee, is that the U.N. has a hard time distinguishing who is the victim and who is the aggressor. And that says it all right there. Their entire worldview is backwards. It's bizarro world, where Israel, the one shining democracy in the Middle East, are the bad guys, and Iran and Sudan and North Korea pass judgment on them!


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