The Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs wanted to encourage more young people in Poland to take interest in employment at the United Nations. The idea was to pick four people at different stages of their UN careers and shoot a documentary about their work and their life.
Working at the UN is partly a professional career and partly a civil service. Once you’ve been accepted to the UN workforce you can’t really pick locations. You may be given one or two options but you have to be prepared to go to the remotest locations if you’re serious about this job. So in order to represent the different worlds that this job could land you in, the following locations got picked: Warsaw, Istanbul, New York and Juba in South Sudan.
Right from the start we knew we had to adopt a documentary approach to this project, along with elements of observational documentary, despite its short form. We are aware this line of work is not a typical professional career track and we had to portray it responsibly. Work at the UN involves travel, flexibility, difficult working conditions and a lot of hardships. On the other hand, it can be very fulfilling. In the documentary we tried to strike a balance between these to give the viewer a better notion about what this job could really be about.
1. Marta in Warsaw
We get to know Marta, a 25 year-old recent university graduate, a few weeks before her leave for Zambia. She has just passed her exams into the UN and is excited about her first job at the United Nations. The shooting locations included Warsaw University Library, a travel store, a train terminal and the Warsaw Airport. We also travelled with Marta to Iława, her home town, to visit her parents for the last time before leaving for Zambia.
2. Karolina in Istanbul
Karolina has been working at the UNHCR for over 10 years now. She spent some time in New York to be relocated to Istanbul recently. UN workers change their work locations every few years, it’s part of the job. Karolina invited us to shoot in her glass-and-steel UN Istanbul office. Then she also agreed to let us in with cameras to her home at 6.30 in the morning to see the family wake up.
3. Sergiusz in New York
New York houses the UN headquarters. The main building is the one featured in Hitchcock’s North by Northwest. Sergiusz, who has spent here a few years now, divides his work time between New York office and mission trips to Somalia.
4. Kasia in Juba (South Sudan)
South Sudan is the youngest country in the world. Just a few months before our arrival there, Juba was still under martial law. It was hard to get all the visas and permissions to film in South Sudan but eventually we made it. Apart from filming in Juba, we travelled to a refugee camp in Gorom. Although the conditions in Gorom are obviously difficult, it was good to see the place is actually moving on. People try to farm the land, set up small stores, youth play football and the kids are just as curious and joyful as anywhere else. We even tripped into a small disco for kids in one of the shelters.
My Way to UN. Four Stories
Documentary film 13’34”
Directed by Paweł Nazaruk & Tomasz Adamski
DOP: Paweł Nazaruk
Sound: Tomasz Adamski, Marcin Popławski
Production management: Agnieszka Sorycz
Project coordination: Agnieszka Skieterska, Ewa Kwaśnik-Ciągło, Paweł Lickiewicz (Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Produced by DogFIlm Studio 2015