[VIDEO: My Year With Helen tells a story of leadership, women and power through the prism of the UN secretary general selection process]
BY VAN BADHAM: A documentary playing in Australia this month [in cinemas via Demand.film] provides a happy and timely reminder that before there was Jacinda Ardern, there was Helen Clark.
The extraordinary post-parliamentary career of the former New Zealand prime minister is the subject of My Year With Helen. In it, filmmaker Gaylene Preston tells a story of leadership, patriarchy, women and power as she follows Clark into one of world’s most secretive – and significant – power processes, the one to be elected secretary general of the UN.
Clark’s pursuit of the position in 2016 was well known, but the precise mechanisms of her defeat in the shadowy, secretive realm of geopolitical horse-trading less so. Clark describes the film documenting her campaign as “fly on the wall”, but the revelation of its story is just how many more walls its other subjects are willing to erect. “It’s a bit of a thriller,” Clark tells me in our interview. “It’s the equivalent of the House of Cards of the UN. Metaphorically, candidates are [killed].”