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My Year with Helen: A Deep Dive into Global Power and Politics

Dive into the world of global politics with "My Year with Helen," an intimate documentary following Helen Clark's campaign for UN Secretary-General.

Keywords: *Helen Clark, United Nations, Secretary-General, New Zealand Prime Minister, women in leadership, global politics. Three Words: Insightful, Powerful, Human *


"My Year with Helen" is a 2017 documentary directed by Gaylene Preston. It offers an intimate, behind-the-scenes look at the life of former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark as she campaigns for the position of UN Secretary-General, all while maintaining a close relationship with her 94-year-old father. This documentary is particularly relevant in today's context as it explores the role of women in global leadership and the power dynamics at play in international politics.


The film follows Helen Clark, a formidable figure in international politics, as she embarks on a quest to become the first female Secretary-General of the United Nations. Simultaneously, she stays connected with her aging father back in New Zealand, offering a rare glimpse into her personal life. The documentary provides an eye-opening view of the inner workings of global power structures, as well as the unique challenges faced by women in leadership roles.

More Film Analysis



The documentary employs a participatory approach, with the director Gaylene Preston closely following Helen Clark on her campaign. The quality of the research is excellent, providing a thoroughly detailed picture of the UN’s Secretary-General selection process. Moreover, it explores the subject's depth, showcasing both the professional and personal sides of Helen Clark.

Historical and Factual Context


Helen Clark served as the Prime Minister of New Zealand from 1999 to 2008, and the Administrator of the UN Development Programme from 2009 to 2017. She was the first woman to hold either position.

Key themes in the film

  • Women in Leadership: The struggle and resilience of women in the political sphere.
  • Power Dynamics: The complex politics and power structures within international organizations.
  • Personal vs. Professional Life: Balancing high-stakes professional roles with personal responsibilities and relationships.

Film Comparisons

"My Year with Helen" offers a more personal perspective compared to other political documentaries, like "Inside the UN," which focuses more on the organization itself.

Noteworthy Moments

The film's most significant moments include Helen's campaign speeches and the emotional moments she shares with her father over the phone.


The documentary received high praise from audiences and critics alike. With an IMDB score of 7.6, it was described as "compelling" and "insightful."


"My Year with Helen" provides a unique view into global politics, making it a must-watch for those interested in international affairs, women's leadership, and the United Nations. It's not just a political documentary but also a human story, making it relatable and engaging for a wide range of viewers.

More film information:


  • IMDB score: 7.6
  • Metacritic score: N/A
  • Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
  • Film festival awards: 1 nomination



  • Helen Clark: Former New Zealand Prime Minister and UNDP Administrator
  • Gaylene Preston: Renowned New Zealand filmmaker



  • New Zealand: Helen's home country
  • United Nations Headquarters: The hub of global politics where Helen campaigned

Key Questions Raised by the Film

  1. How does the film portray the challenges faced by women in global leadership roles?
  2. What does the film reveal about the inner workings of the United Nations?

I wonder what the film would be in another art form

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  1. A famous book, it would be "Lean In" by Sheryl Sandberg – both emphasize the role and struggles of women in leadership roles.
  2. A famous song, it would be "I Will Survive" – signifying Helen's resilience and determination.
  3. A famous piece of art, it would be "The Girl with a Pearl Earring" – both offer a deep, intimate look at a woman's life.
  4. A famous celebrity, it would be Michelle Obama – both are influential women who balance personal life with demanding professional roles.
  5. A colour, it would be blue – representing the UN's primary colour and the calm determination of Helen Clark.
  6. A music style, it would be classical – both are timeless, profound, and require a deep understanding of intricate details.