Borat film banned in Russia
By Jeremy Last
A satirical movie starring a British Jewish comedian which pokes fun at the apparent anti-Semitic nature of some of Kazakhstan’s population has been banned in Russia.
“Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,” had already garnered much controversy through its depiction of the former communist state as being backward and full of anti-Semitism.
It tells the story of a fictional Kazakhstani journalist, Borat, who travels to America to learn about culture. In the movie Borat explains how “Jews” are one of the main problems in Kazakhstan and that locals drink fermented horse urine.
Despite the offence taken, the Kazakh government did not ban the film, which stars Ali G creator Sacha Baron Cohen. But on Thursday it was announced that the Russian the Federal Culture and Cinematography Agency has refused to grant the film license out of concern that it may offend.
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“The film contains material that some viewers may consider offensive to certain nationalities and religions,” Yury Vasyuchkov, head of the Federal Culture and Cinematography Agency’s department that licenses movies for distribution to theaters, was quoted a saying by the Moscow Times.
The movie was supposed to open in around 300 Russian cinemas on November 30, but local distributer Gemini Marketing have said that they do not expect it to be available for Russian viewers until early 2007, if at all.
Nikolai Vorunkov, deputy general director of, the movie’s distributor in Russia and a subsidiary of 20th Century Fox, said: “There was some kind of explanation that the movie might create tension between races and nationalities because of its far-from-simple humor.”
The controversy over the movie has only served to increase its publicity, especially after the Kazakh government first went on the offensive dismissing the character.
Public-relations specialist Mark Borkowski told the Jewish Chronicle: “The way Kazakhstan hasn’t taken the joke — that’s fallen into his lap. I think that a third party has wound Kazakhstanis up in an attempt to get them to react.
Borat has also been praised as a clever method of making digs at political leaders. At the recent US premiere Baron Cohen, in character, said:”Kazakhstan very much admires your mighty warlord, George Walter Bush. He is a very wise man and also a strong man – but perhaps not as strong as his father, Barbara.”
Baron Cohen, who first found fame as Ali G, is a north London Jew who was educated at Haberdashers Askes school and Cambridge University where he studied history.