By any measure, Helen Clark is an exceptional woman. Her journey from one of four children on a remote New Zealand farm to becoming New Zealand’s first elected female Prime Minister forms an outstanding and inspirational life story. In 2016, she added an even more ambitious chapter, as she attempted to become the United Nations’ first ever female Secretary-General.
MY YEAR WITH HELEN gives a closely observed view of Helen’s bid for the top job, as the UN turns itself inside out in an effort to deliver unprecedented transparency in an historic year.
Gaylene Preston’s cameras follow Helen Clark campaigning for Secretary-General while also carrying out her work as Administrator of UNDP, filming Clark in Botswana, Britain, Spain and Ukraine as well as the UN’s New York headquarters.
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Ranked by Forbes magazine among the top 25 most powerful women in the world, Helen Clark was Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme from 2009 until 2016. In that time she oversaw the UNDP’s work providing advice, training and grant support to developing nations and led its emergence as the world’s most transparent development agency. In April 2016 she announced her candidacy for Secretary-General.
Before taking her UN appointment, Helen was Prime Minister of New Zealand for nine years consecutively from 1999 to 2008.
Gaylene has been a filmmaker for almost all her adult life as a writer, director and producer, amassing a substantial catalogue of independent films for cinema and television. She had been interested in making a Helen Clark Documentary for many years, and the possibility that Helen could become UN Secretary-General made 2016 the perfect time. Preston has known Clark since they met when New Zealand was leading the world in the 1980s by becoming nuclear free.
“I have witnessed Helen break down barriers as she’s gone from MP to Cabinet Minister, to New Zealand’s first elected female Prime Minister, and then the first woman to lead the UN Development Group. Helen is a formidable woman and leader, and I am privileged she gave my team access to tell this story.”
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