Backstabbing for Beginners

Synopsis: A young program coordinator at the United Nations stumbles upon a conspiracy involving Iraq's oil reserves.
Director(s): Per Fly
Production: A24 and DIRECTV
Rotten Tomatoes:
108 min


My name is Michael Sullivan

and I have a story...

I think you're gonna want to hear.

Michael Sullivan?

How long have you been

a lobbyist at Belasquian Banks?

Two years.

A lot of strategy, research and support.

That's a good job.

You're not happy there?

No, I just... I don't want to wake up

when I'm 40 and discover

the only thing I've contributed

to the world is tax shelters,

sweatshops, and holes in the ozone.

You're an idealist?

You know, for as long as I can remember

I've wanted to be a diplomat.

I want to make a difference in the world.

Your father was a diplomat.

- Yeah, US State Department, he...

- Lebanon. 1983.

I'm sorry for your loss.

My father passed away

when I was little.

He was killed in the bombing

of the US Embassy in Beirut

when I was five years old.

One of my earliest memories

is my father telling stories

about the founding of the United Nations.

We'll find a way to end war.

He made it sound like modern day knights

sitting around the Round Table.

I wanted to follow in his footsteps.

By the fall of 2002,

I had applied for a job

at the United Nations four times.

- Hey!

- Uncle Michael!

My sister says it's because

foreign service is in our family legacy.

- Hey little brother, how are ya?

- Hey, good.

- Sorry I'm late.

- You look good.

And just like my mother,

she married a guy she met

while interning at the UN.

So I got you something small,

but something else is on its way, okay?

- Hey, Trevor.

- Hey.

- Nice cake, Lily. Got enough Danish flags?

- Yeah, yeah.

Well, did you hear anything?

No. I'll hear tomorrow.

But how'd it feel?


No, I was too nervous.

Oh, well, it's their loss.

I'm sure you'll get it.

You've been working so hard for this.


And it's somebody's birthday,

so should we do cake?


Happy Birthday to you

Happy Birthday dear Kate

Best candidates keep getting

hired away by f***ing hedge funds.

Michael Sullivan.

I knew his father.

Danish passport.

His mother's side,

but he's only 24 years old.

He'll do.

I thought I would start

with some entry-level assignment.

Instead I got a dream job.

Special Assistant

to the Under-Secretary-General...

running the largest humanitarian program

in the United Nations' history.

I couldn't believe my luck.

All I kept thinking was,

"Don't f*** this up. "

The program is called


It's created in 1995

by Security Council resolution 986,

which has stated that the UN

would manage the sale of Iraqi oil

and use the profits to provide

humanitarian relief in the country

to alleviate the hardship.

Which basically means that our office

is in charge of trying to feed

an entire nation,

over 20 million people.

You have a little reading to catch up on.

We are woefully behind schedule

on our funding status report

to the Security Council.

Your immediate task will be

to help facilitate its completion.

Your predecessor was due to brief

the undersecretary tomorrow.


What happened to him?

A car accident in Iraq.

Jesus Christ! Is he all right?

No, he didn't make it.

A bullet-point summary will do.

Pasha will be in his office at nine.

Got a couple of minutes, Michael?

Justin Cutter, Central Intelligence.


Yeah. We come in all shapes and sizes.

Okay, can I help you with something?

Listen, we think Oil-for-Food

is being gamed for private gain

by a bad guy or bad guys unknown.

Possibly with help from the inside,

- which is where you are, so...

- Look, I... I just got this job.

I'm not gonna... I'm not gonna spy for you.

Oh, God, no.

No, no, leave that to the professionals.

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Per Fly

Per Fly Plejdrup (born 14 January 1960) is a Danish film director, generally credited simply as Per Fly. He is married to Danish actress Charlotte Fich. They have two children Anton and Aksel together. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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