David Holbrooke’s “The Diplomat”: HBO Monday
David Holbrooke is widely known and highly regarded locally as director of one of Telluride’s signature festivals, Mountainfilm, whose impact he has deepened and broadened through deft programming and force of personality. But David was a filmmaker whose docs often premiered at Mountainfilm years before he became the event’s head honcho. With his latest film project, “The Diplomat,” a tribute to his high-profile father, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, David returns to his professional roots. “The Diplomat” screens on HBO starting Monday, November 2. A recent review of the film by Neil Genzlinger in the New York Times.
Beltway insiders will no doubt drive themselves crazy finding fault with “The Diplomat,” a documentary about Richard C. Holbrooke, showing Monday night on HBO, that was made by his son David. It’s too hagiographic, or not hagiographic enough. It’s oversimplified, or too wonkish. It’s just a way for Hollywood types to give Hillary Rodham Clinton more TV time. And so on.
But Beltway insiders aren’t the ideal audience for this film, even though a lot of them turn up in it. Its best use is as a reminder to a more general audience that despite the gathering noise surrounding the presidential election, much of the real work of American foreign policy is done by career diplomats who have the seemingly impossible task of navigating both Washington politics and intractable global trouble spots.
Mr. Holbrooke, who died in late 2010 while serving as President Obama’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, was such a player for almost a half-century. David Holbrooke frames the film partly as a career retrospective and partly as his own rediscovery of his father, who was often absent while he was growing up. He puts just enough of himself and his extended family into “The Diplomat” to give it some audience-friendly poignancy.
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