Conversation with ... Romuald Sciora: 'The Price of Peace'; A Unique Way to Present the History of the United Nations

UN Chronicle, September-November 2005 | Go to article overview

Conversation with ... Romuald Sciora: 'The Price of Peace'; A Unique Way to Present the History of the United Nations


Directed by French filmmaker Romuald Sciora, "The Price of Peace" is an ambitious two-part project on the past and future of the United Nations. "Mister Secretary-General ..." is a television series on the history of the United Nations, as told by UN secretaries-general, featuring current Secretary-General Kofi Annan and his predecessors--Kurt Waldheim, Javier Perez de Cuellar and Boutros Boutros-Ghali--as well as Sir Brian Urquhart, who speaks about his experience working for the first three deceased secretaries-general: Trygve Lie, Dag Hammarskjold and U Thant. The series will debut in Geneva and then in New York on 29 November 2005 on the occasion of the United Nations sixtieth anniversary. The second part, On the Blue Road, is a feature-length documentary film structured as a journey through the various institutions of the UN system and will explore how the United Nations deals with the critical issues facing the world today. It is aimed for theatrical release in 2006.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Mr. Sciora, who is also a playwright, began his work with an acclaimed series of documentary films titled Chronicles from a Barbaric Era. His latest feature-length film, The Ashes of the Phoenix, was inspired by the work of Father Mansour Labaky, who devoted his life to helping underprivileged children in Lebanon and through his writings sought to teach peace and tolerance.

Horst Rutsch of the UN Chronicle spoke with Mr. Sciora on 6 June 2005.

On the structure of the project

The first part is a televised series, a collection of films on the history of the United Nations as told by its former secretaries-general. This is the first project of its kind. Former UN Under-Secretary-General Sir Brian Urquhart hosts the first episode, which discusses the first three secretaries-general: Trygve Lie, Dag Hammarsjkold and U Thant. The second part deals with Kurt Waldheim; the third, Perez de Cuellar; the fourth, Boutros Boutros-Ghali; and the final one will focus on Secretary-General Kofi Annan. All episodes will be of the same length--about 30 minutes--due to television broadcasting constraints. However, each segment was the result of approximately ten hours of filming; obviously, there is plenty of material.

We are working in close partnership with the United Nations, using rare archived images that will complement the testimonies of speakers. We were able to have several preparatory meetings with the Secretaries-General and also to film for extended sessions. This allowed the project to go beyond the simple interview format and become a work of reflection and oral history. During these episodes, there are several smaller anecdotes, including descriptions of encounters with world leaders, such as Kurt Waldheim's meeting with George Herbert Walker Bush when he was the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, and when Perez de Cuellar tried to convince Saddam Hussein to withdraw his troops from Kuwait. We tried to infuse the great history of the United Nations with personal reflections.

On the launch of the television series

The premiere of the series, hosted by the French Embassy, will take place on 29 November 2005 at the Alliance Francaise in New York. Two episodes will be screened, followed by a panel discussion with Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information Shashi Tharoor, Sir Brian Urquhart and Stephen Schlesinger of the Trustee of the Center for UN Reform Education, among others. There will also be simultaneous events in Paris. The former French Ministry of Foreign Affairs created a committee on the United Nations--of which I was a member--for the celebration of the Organization's sixtieth anniversary. We are also organizing a great premiere in Paris in December, to be followed by a panel discussion.

On the forthcoming book

The United Nations is publishing a book, tied into the television series, on the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary. …

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