Filming begins on first movie shot at UN Headquarters in New York

USG Shashi Tharoor (R) & film director Sydney Pollack

9 March 2004 – Filming has begun on The Interpreter, the first movie to be shot inside the United Nations Headquarters in New York, after the UN gave formal permission to the movie's producers on Friday.

The thriller, which stars Sean Penn and Nicole Kidman, is not intended to be a propaganda device for the UN, director Sydney Pollack and UN Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information Shashi Tharoor said today at a joint press conference.

Mr. Tharoor said the UN granted approval to The Interpreter only after senior officials studied the script and held "extensive discussions" with Mr. Pollack.

He said they also signed off partly because of "our own great regard for Mr. Pollack as an artist and given his track record and experience as a film maker."

Mr. Pollack, who has also worked as a producer and actor, has directed many films, including The Way We Were (1973), Absence of Malice (1981), Tootsie (1982), Out of Africa (1985) and The Firm (1993). He won two Oscars for Out of Africa: best director and best picture.

Mr. Tharoor said UN officials believe The Interpreter is "going to bring a lot of people into the movie theatres…who would not otherwise have paid much attention to this Organization."

The Director said he was attracted to the visual setting offered by the world body. "People haven't seen what's inside," Mr. Pollack said. "You have tons and tons of visitors but most of the people in the United States don't know what the UN looks like and don't understand how the UN works and don't know what its day-to-day business is."

The first scenes at UN Headquarters were shot last weekend. Mr. Tharoor said filming would only take place on weekends, public holidays or nights so as not to disturb the regular work of the UN. The set is closed to tourists and UN staff.

Mr. Pollack predicted that shooting on the film, estimated to cost $80 million, would take 14 weeks. He also voiced hope that it would be released late November.

Video of the press conference

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