Kazakhstan director shoots Borat sequel
Nov 23. BBC News
A film director in Kazakhstan has shot a sequel to Sacha Baron Cohen’s famous comedy Borat in a bid to improve the country’s image.
When it was released in 2006, the original film, which follows an uncultured journalist who travels to the US where he pursues the actress Pamela Anderson, outraged people in Kazakhstan and was eventually banned in the country.
The Kazakh government also threatened Baron Cohen with legal action.
Erkin Rakishev is one of many who did not see the funny side of the original comedy Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.
So he decided to shoot My Brother, Borat to counter balance the country’s image created by Cohen’s character.
“Every Kazakhstani who goes to the West feels uncomfortable to say where he or she is from,” Rakishev told BBC World Service.
“This is because people in the West associate the country with Borat’s film.”
The sequel trails an American journalist called John, who after watching the original Borat movie, decides to visit Kazakhstan.
He goes in search of the character’s fictional home village Kusek, but is shocked to find a modern and developed city.
“John recalls in the movie that Borat mentioned his mentally ill brother Bilo,” says Rakishev.
“He finds Bilo in a psychiatric ward along with Osama Bin Laden and George Bush and this is how the film begins.”
John is then taken on a tour around Kazakhstan by Bilo to see what the country is really like.
“When Borat made his film it offended our nation,” Rakishev explained.
“I think it crossed the line. Maybe they just wanted to joke, but they belittled, insulted and mixed us with dirt, they compared us to animals, showed us as barbarians and wild people.
“You say everybody understands that it was a joke, I don’t think so, because the majority of people believe in what they see and hear.
“So when they see this fictional film made by Borat – they believe it’s true.”
Despite Rakishev’s take on the original film, his own sequel also features some controversial scenes.
In one clip, Bilo gets raped by a donkey and in another an old woman is seen beating the two main characters with a stick.
But Rakishev denies such scenes in My Brother, Borat will cause offence.
“If it was Borat’s brother who raped the donkey then perhaps it would be considered outrageous, but it is the other way round,” he argues.
“We did consider all opinions, our jokes are tough but not offensive,” he added.
“We are not fools here, of course we take into account the opinion of a western viewer, it is the most important thing for us.
“We want the western audience to watch it and have a better understanding of what Kazakhstan is really like.”
Following the success of the original Borat movie which made ?150m at the box office, Rakishev believes his sequel will also be a huge success when it is finally released next year.
“You know in the past three years I’ve made six films in Kazakhstan and I can tell you for sure that my films are popular, they become instant hits,” he added.
“The original Borat film is a black comedy and we wanted to make the sequel in the same genre.
“But in contrast to the original film we are not going to such a low level of toilet humour.”