In the framework of the SG’s Creative Community Outreach Initiative, the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) authorized the shooting at the Palais des Nations on 13 and 14 November of scenes from the film “Belle du Seigneur”, adapted from Albert Cohen’s famous novel.
Set in the late 1930's, Belle du Seigneur is regarded as a classic of French modern literature and is one of the main works of fiction with a League of Nations background. It is the story of the obsessive love affair between Solal, an Assistant Secretary-General in the League of Nations and Ariane, the wife of a staff member. The novel includes ironic passages in the life of a rather unproductive international civil servant.
Directed and written by Brazilian director Glenio Bonder, who started his career as a diplomat, the film brings together well-known actors (including Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Solal and Natalia Vodianova as Ariane) and a production team that includes Oscar winners and nominees (such as Director of Photography Eduardo Serra, whose work on The Girl with the Pearl Earring won him an Oscar nomination).
Between scenes shooting
An army of electricians, cameramen, sound technicians, make up artists, caterers and many others took over parts of the Palais over the weekend. Scenes were shot in and outside the Council Chamber and the Hall des Pas Perdus. They were assisted by staff members from the United Nations Information Service at Geneva, as well as UNOG’s Division of Administration and Safety and Security Services (SSS). Two of our colleagues from SSS’s canine unit, Jose Gallardo and his dog Neo, even played small parts in a scene.
Although the project required many to work throughout the weekend, it was an unforgettable experience, and it is hoped that it will serve to raise awareness of the history of the Palais des Nations and its first tenant, the League of Nations. UNOG’s Library hosts a recently renovated League of Nations Museum, which presents significant pieces of the large League of Nations Archives collection (listed in 2009 in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register.) UNOG’s Library Archives colleagues had helped the production team research costumes and copyright information on artworks in the filming locations.