The Diplomat (2015 film)
|Directed by||David Holbrooke|
|Produced by||Stacey Reiss|
|Music by||Graham Reynolds|
|Edited by||Seth Bomse|
|Distributed by||Home Box Office|
The Diplomat is a biographical documentary film released in 2015 about former U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, whose five-decade career began as a Foreign Service Officer in Vietnam during the war. At the time of his death in December 2010, he was the Obama administration's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. The documentary's perspective is from Holbrooke's son, David.
The film had its U.S. premiere at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival on April 23. Following the premiere, Director David Holbrooke and Producer Stacey Reiss participated in a Q&A session hosted by Katie Couric and featuring Roger Cohen and Ronan Farrow. In addition to Tribeca, the film played at additional festivals and was screened for audiences across the United States and Europe. Some notable screenings included AFI Docs, San Francisco International Film Festival, Traverse City Film Festival, Sarajevo Film Festival, Jerusalem Film Festival, and Telluride Mountainfilm.
The film features interviews and contributions from "journalists and policy makers and military leaders" such as Madeleine Albright, Wesley Clark, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Tom Donilon, Al Gore, Christopher R. Hill, John Kerry, Henry Kissinger, Ashraf Ghani, Doug Lute, David Petraeus, Samantha Power, Strobe Talbott, Dan Feldman, Barnett Rubin, Vali Nasr, and Rina Amiri. Additionally, interviews from journalists who covered the character's career are represented in the film: Christiane Amanpour, Roger Cohen, Ronan Farrow, Dexter Filkins, Joe Klein, Stanley Karnow, George Packer, David Rohde, Diane Sawyer, and Bob Woodward. Also featured in the film is Anthony Holbrooke, Andrew Holbrooke, Litty Holbrooke, Les Gelb, Jim Johnson, Kati Marton, Frank Wisner, Kofi Annan, Mate Granic, Bakir Izetbegovic, Nancy Dupree, and Vladimir Lehovich.
The film attempts to trace the diplomatic footsteps of Holbrooke by visiting the places that shaped his career in government. On location shoots include Vietnam, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Croatia, and Afghanistan.
The film was directed by David Holbrooke. His last film, Hard as Nails, aired on HBO in December 2007. Other documentaries include Freaks Like Me, Time for a New God and A Redwood Grows in Brooklyn, featuring acclaimed nature photographer James Balog. All are part of an ongoing series he created called "Original Thinkers." Other notable projects include The Soul of Healing with Deepak Chopra and co-producing The Trials of Henry Kissinger. His production company, Giraffe Partners, is developing narrative features and several documentaries. He lives in Telluride, Colorado with his wife and three kids and is the current director of the Telluride Mountainfilm festival.
Gordon Goldstein began his op-ed for Politico by stating the film "manages to be not just a poignant and surprisingly dispassionate portrait of his late father, the brilliant but divisive Richard Holbrooke, but also to illuminate the continuum of past and present U.S. foreign policy. In so doing it delivers important lessons on what we must do now to resolve our most complex and intractable problems abroad."
Brendan Vaughan from GQ said "the film is...a fascinating, ringside history of post-Cold War America, told through the prism of this one Zelig-like figure, and a moving father-son story that will leave any man who watches it reflecting on his own relationships. You don't have to be Richard Holbrooke, or even close, to hope that your children will be as understanding as David Holbrooke is about all the things you missed when you were still at the office."
Regina Weinreich from The Huffington Post wrote in her online review that "watching HBO's documentary, The Diplomat, offers a generous glimpse into Washington circles, and an important era in American history."
Neil Genzlinger from The New York Times offered that "the film is at its best when detailing Mr. Holbrooke’s work untangling the nightmare in the Balkans for President Bill Clinton and contending with the Serbian president, Slobodan Milošević. The 1995 Dayton peace agreement, which ended the war in Bosnia, is regarded as perhaps his finest achievement."
Dave Wiegand from the San Francisco Chronicle, commented that "as a director, David Holbrooke becomes the avatar for the film’s audience, sharing the driving desire to understand what made Richard Holbrooke great, often singularly effective and almost always the smartest guy in the room."
Chris Nashawaty gave the film an "A-" in his Entertainment Weekly review, saying the doc "balances poignant political insight with a heartfelt narrative about a man trying to reckon with his absent father’s legacy."
Robert Abele from the Los Angeles Times said "the portrait that emerges, with David on camera as a respectful but quizzical son as he pores through letters, photos, journals and audio recordings, is of a hard-driving, ambitious figure who preferred to mingle in the world and reflect reality in his diplomatic efforts rather than become trapped in a government-obfuscating bubble."
Manuel Roig-Franzia from The Washington Post observed that "the film doesn’t attempt to be a definitive account of Holbrooke, the relentless diplomatic figure who brokered peace in the Balkans, but it straddles the personal and the professional in a way that only a son’s film about his father could."
Norman Boucher writing for the Brown University Alumni Magazine said the film "displays rich depth as a conventional documentary. As Richard Holbrooke’s son, David Holbrooke earned the trust not only of an all-star group but of Holbrooke’s former aides and adversaries. The film’s ambition doesn’t stop there, however. Interwoven with the ambassadorial profile is a more intimate look at the man and his shortcomings as father and husband. At the beginning of The Diplomat, David Holbrooke makes the startling claim that only after Richard Holbrooke’s death did he realize his father was a historical figure."
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- "The Diplomat". traversecityfilmfest.org/. Traverse City Film Festival. July 29, 2015. Retrieved October 14, 2015.
- "Sarajevo Festival-Goers Overflow at Holbrooke Film". balkaninsight.com/en/. Balkan Insight. August 17, 2015. Retrieved October 14, 2015.
- "The Diplomat". jff.org.il/. Jerusalem Film Festival. July 14, 2015. Retrieved October 14, 2015.
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- Goldstein, Gordon (December 6, 2015). "We Need Richard Holbrooke More Than Ever". politico.com. Politico. Retrieved December 21, 2015.
- Vaughan, Brendan (November 2, 2015). "Why Richard Holbrooke's Son Made a Documentary About His 'Absent' Dad". gq.com. GQ. Retrieved December 21, 2015.
- Weinreich, Regina (November 2, 2015). "David Holbrooke's Anxiety of Influence: HBO's 'The Diplomat'". huffingtonpost.com. The Huffington Post Times. Retrieved December 21, 2015.
- Genzlinger, Neil (October 30, 2015). "Review: 'The Diplomat' on HBO, Traces the Global Life of Richard C. Holbrooke". nytimes.com. The New York Times. Retrieved December 17, 2015.
- Wiegand, Dave (October 29, 2015). "HBO Portrait of Richard C. Holbrooke, a driven 'Diplomat'". sfchronicle.com. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved December 17, 2015.
- Nashawaty, Chris (October 29, 2015). "The Diplomat: EW Review". ew.com. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved December 17, 2015.
- Abele, Robert (October 22, 2015). "'The Diplomat' documentary serves as an ode to Richard Holbrooke from his son, David". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 27, 2015.
- Roig-Franzia, Manuel (October 20, 2015). "Searching for Richard Holbrooke". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 27, 2015.
- Boucher, Norman (September 1, 2015). "A Complicated Man". brownalumnimagazine.com. Brown University. Retrieved December 17, 2015.