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Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan


Peter T Chattaway
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Hebrew in 'Borat' Has Israel in Stitches

Like moviegoing masses around the world, Israelis have crowded theaters to watch the hit spoof "Borat." But they are laughing for another reason: They actually understand what the anti-Semitic, misogynist Kazakh journalist is saying.

Associated Press, December 14

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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*note: I have been a lurker here for a month or so, and thought you folks might like to hear the perspective on Borat from someone living in KZ.*

I remember one occasion during college when a touring theater company visited our campus, and offered a class on theater improvisation. My roommate and I volunteered to participate, and almost immediately launched into a routine that included some pretty juvenile

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I am one of those ignorant Americans with a mediocre grasp of world geography. And so I will now fully confess that I never heard of Kazakhstan, and when I saw the film I merely assumed it was an utterly non-existent nation that that Cohen fabricated for the purpose of the film.

But now knowing that it's a REAL country, I'm apalled (not just at my geographic ignorance, but) at Cohen's brutally unfair and uncalled for defamation of an actual nation. As a Christian, I "tolerated" the film's defamation of my religion. But his vilifying a whole country is unacceptable.

INT. HOLY TRINITY CHURCH - SANCTUARY - NIGHT

FATHER LORENZO

So now that you've told me all of this: why do you hold such a deep aversion to discussing angels?

PASTOR DAVID

Because I don't wanna get it WRONG! To stand up in front of my congregation--AND in front of God-- and screw it up! Do you hold much stock in that passage from James that says "We who teach will be judged more strictly"??

FATHER LORENZO

Yes... in fact .... I consider that one scripture to be an occupational hazard.

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mrmando wrote:

: So is there much of a film industry in Kazakhstan?

Funny you should ask.

And I repeat: Ahem. Ahem. Ahem.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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There's a long standing tradition of filmmaking here, and many great filmmakers. The national filmmaking company is called Kazakhfilm, and they are educating and putting out new films regularly. The country also hosts the Eurasia film festival, which could become the premiere film festival in this part of the world.

The issue I have with KZ filmmakers is that they aren't producing much in the way of modern films. The "Nomad" movie is a case in point - a movie about people centuries ago instead of life now. I am hoping to make films here that deal with the here and now, God willing.

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Borat seen as human rights victim by U.S. government

Fictional Kazakh TV reporter Borat has made an unexpected cameo appearance as a victim of censorship in a heavyweight annual human rights report issued by the State Department.

The 2006 report, released in Washington on Tuesday by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, criticized the real Kazakhstan, a vast oil-producing Central Asian state, for increased restrictions on freedom of speech and other abuses.

The State Department, which says Kazakhstan has no independent judiciary, also listed the murder last year of Kazakh opposition politician Altynbek Sarsenbaiuly, his bodyguard and driver as "unlawful deprivation of life."

The report cited Borat's loss of his Kazakh webpage www.borat.kz in late 2005 alongside court cases and limits on free speech faced by the few domestic media critical of Kazakhstan's long-serving President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

"The government deemed as offensive the content of a satirical site controlled by British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen and revoked the .kz domain," the report said. . . .

Reuters, March 7

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I really liked "Borat" for the purpose of a good laugh, but I really appreciate your perspective. I never really think about the film from the perspective of the Kazakh people, but because Kazakhstan was not very well known until this film, the majority of people will forever think about the Kazakh people in relation to this film. Now that Kazalhstan is on the map, it would be great if the nationals would make an effort to educate people on the real Kazakh culture.

*note: I have been a lurker here for a month or so, and thought you folks might like to hear the perspective on Borat from someone living in KZ.*

I remember one occasion during college when a touring theater company visited our campus, and offered a class on theater improvisation. My roommate and I volunteered to participate, and almost immediately launched into a routine that included some pretty juvenile

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Kazakhs buying 'Borat' DVDs

The Kazakh government may not like the representation of their nation in Fox's outrageous laffer "Borat" but their subjects are voting with their hard-earned tenge, making the "Borat" DVD the most ordered product from the U.K. arm of online retailer Amazon.

Variety, March 9

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Kazakhs buying 'Borat' DVDs

The Kazakh government may not like the representation of their nation in Fox's outrageous laffer "Borat" but their subjects are voting with their hard-earned tenge, making the "Borat" DVD the most ordered product from the U.K. arm of online retailer Amazon.

Variety, March 9

That's usually what happens when ya ban something! :P

INT. HOLY TRINITY CHURCH - SANCTUARY - NIGHT

FATHER LORENZO

So now that you've told me all of this: why do you hold such a deep aversion to discussing angels?

PASTOR DAVID

Because I don't wanna get it WRONG! To stand up in front of my congregation--AND in front of God-- and screw it up! Do you hold much stock in that passage from James that says "We who teach will be judged more strictly"??

FATHER LORENZO

Yes... in fact .... I consider that one scripture to be an occupational hazard.

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The character has been retired.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Sacha Baron Cohen: Killing off Borat

In a rare interview as himself, Sacha Baron Cohen tells John Hiscock about auditioning for Sondheim, the secret he kept from Tim Burton -- and the pain of abandoning his comic creations

Daily Telegraph, December 21

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Whereas Baron-Cohen's humor is deliberately provocative and outrageous - and not always very humorous. I think he's more aware than anyone that truly outrageous statements can (and sometimes do) provoke genuine outrage. it's not a matter of the audience "not getting it." It's that there's a meanness in his humor, and manipulativeness, too. FWIW, the rodeo sequence in the film got a *lot* of press here after it was shot ... and it would bother me a lot less if Baron-Cohen and the rodeo spectators had all been working from a script.

Oh my goodness. Forgive the four-year delay on this, but I was just looking for something else here at A&F, and I stumbled across this thread dated 14 January 2005, which appears to have been spurred by that rodeo event.

I wish I had been aware of that (and linked to that) when THIS thread got started, but oh well, better late than never!

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 1 year later...

Borat is back in the news.

Evidently at the Arab Shooting Championship in Kuwait, when a Kazakh sportswoman won a gold medal, the hosts played the movie's parody Kazakh national anthem (with lyrics like: "Kazakhstan’s prostitutes cleanest in the region. Except of course Turkmenistan's.") instead of the real one:

http://www.bbc.co.uk...e-east-17491344

As an interesting footnote, the movie itself had been banned in Kuwait.

Edited by bowen
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Kazakhstan Officials Thank Sacha Baron Cohen For Borat Boost

. . . Government officials in Kazakhstan were initially very wary of Cohen's creation, launching a public relations campaign to counteract a possible backlash from the film and even threatening to sue the star over a spin-off Borat website he launched.

However, Foreign Minister Yerzhan Kazykhanov has now made a turnaround and thanked the filmmakers for giving the country a tourism boost.

Afp reports he told the Kazakh parliament, "With the release of this film, the number of visas issued by Kazakhstan grew tenfold. I am grateful to Borat for helping attract tourists to Kazakhstan."

WENN, April 25

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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