Borat (2006)

R | 82-84 or 89 mins | Comedy, Documentary, Satire | 3 November 2006

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HISTORY

The film’s working title was Borat the Movie ; the opening title card includes the subtitle Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan . The film’s onscreen credits are rendered in the Cyrillic alphabet, over which credits written in English are superimposed. The opening credits read “Kazakhstan Ministry of Information presents a Kazakh television production in association with Bagatov Films.” The final credit reads “Passed by Kazakhstan’s Board of Film Censors. This film is unsuitable for children under three.” Several individuals are thanked in the closing credits, as well as the villagers of Moroieni, Romania, Talkback Productions and Channel Four Television. Throughout the film, British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen as Kazakh journalist “Borat Sagdiyev” turns toward the camera and addresses the audience.
       A 30 Nov 2006 article in Rolling Stone noted that the character of “Borat” was inspired by a doctor Baron Cohen had met in Astrakhan in southern Russia. Naming the character “Alexi Krickler," a reporter from Moldova, Baron Cohen posed as Krickler on the British station Channel Four Televison The 11 O’Clock Show , a late-night comedy show in which Baron Cohen also played the character of "Ali G," a white American “hip-hopper” who speaks in black street slang and fancies himself a product of the ghetto.
       Baron Cohen appeared in various episodes of The 11 O’Clock Show from 1998--1999. From 1 Mar—5 May 2000, Baron Cohen hosted Da Ali G Show on Channel Four Television and from 11 Feb 2003—22 Aug 2004 he hosted an American version of the show, which was presented on HBO. The show ... More Less

The film’s working title was Borat the Movie ; the opening title card includes the subtitle Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan . The film’s onscreen credits are rendered in the Cyrillic alphabet, over which credits written in English are superimposed. The opening credits read “Kazakhstan Ministry of Information presents a Kazakh television production in association with Bagatov Films.” The final credit reads “Passed by Kazakhstan’s Board of Film Censors. This film is unsuitable for children under three.” Several individuals are thanked in the closing credits, as well as the villagers of Moroieni, Romania, Talkback Productions and Channel Four Television. Throughout the film, British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen as Kazakh journalist “Borat Sagdiyev” turns toward the camera and addresses the audience.
       A 30 Nov 2006 article in Rolling Stone noted that the character of “Borat” was inspired by a doctor Baron Cohen had met in Astrakhan in southern Russia. Naming the character “Alexi Krickler," a reporter from Moldova, Baron Cohen posed as Krickler on the British station Channel Four Televison The 11 O’Clock Show , a late-night comedy show in which Baron Cohen also played the character of "Ali G," a white American “hip-hopper” who speaks in black street slang and fancies himself a product of the ghetto.
       Baron Cohen appeared in various episodes of The 11 O’Clock Show from 1998--1999. From 1 Mar—5 May 2000, Baron Cohen hosted Da Ali G Show on Channel Four Television and from 11 Feb 2003—22 Aug 2004 he hosted an American version of the show, which was presented on HBO. The show featured Baron Cohen's characters Ali G and Borat, as well as "Bruno," a gay fashion reporter from Austria. Baron Cohen is an observant Jew and Cambridge graduate who wrote a thesis about the black-Jewish alliance in the United States during the Civil Rights era and spent time in Israel studying and working on a kibbutz.
       An Oct 2006 article in Entertainment Weekly noted that in spring 2003, Baron Cohen brought the idea for a Borat movie to Jay Roach, who agreed to co-produce the film with him. After Twentieth Century Fox agreed to distribute the film, Baron Cohen sought out Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of the animated Comedy Central cable television show South Park , to develop the concept with him. When Parker and Stone decided to make their own picture, however, Baron Cohen hired Todd Phillips to direct. Parker and Stone are thanked in the film's closing credits. The film’s original concept had an American film crew making a documentary about Borat as he traveled across the country. The article noted that Baron Cohen felt that concept was not working because it created a buffer between Borat and his subjects. According to a Jan 2005 DV article, Borat had just begun shooting when Phillips and Baron Cohen had a disagreement over how to approach the film, causing Phillips to drop out of the project.
       In the Rolling Stone article, Baron Cohen remarked that “Borat essentially works as a tool. By himself being anti-Semitic, he lets people lower their guard and expose their own prejudices, whether it is anti-Semitism or an acceptance of anti-Semitism.” Although the publicity accompanying the film at the time of its release indicated that there was no set script, a 22 Jan 2006 LAT article published shortly after Borat was nominated by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) for Best Adapted Screenplay noted that at a WGA question and answer session held in late Jan, Baron Cohen stated that 80% of the film contained scenes that they "set out to accomplish." Baron Cohen went on to say that "...we had a 60-page outline and pages for each scene."
       In the film’s press kit, Roach elaborated that the scenes were driven by the way in which Borat’s interviewees react to his questions. The reaction sometimes changed the direction of the story, and Borat was allotted only one take for each scene. The Rolling Stone article noted that Baron Cohen would remain in character from the moment he left his hotel until the crew wrapped for the day. Director Larry Charles added that he and Baron Cohen had “some heated discussions, but [because Baron Cohen led the production meetings as his character Borat] I’d be standing in the middle of a cotton field in Louisiana being yelled at by Borat.” The Kazakh language that Borat purportedly speaks in the film is actually a mixture of Israeli slang and Hebrew, according to a 22 Dec 2006 LAT article.
       In addition to staying in character during production, Baron Cohen conducted press interviews for the film as Borat. A 9 Sep 2006 LAT article noted that at the Toronto Film Festival premiere of the film, Baron Cohen as Borat arrived atop a wooden cart pulled by six women dressed to look like Kazakh villagers. [The Toronto premiere was cut short when the projector broke twenty minutes into the film.] The website for the film Borat features a link to the Kazakh reporter’s “official website” and MySpace.com web page. Despite Baron Cohen’s publicity stunts, Fox began to fear that most moviegoers were unaware of “Borat,” and so scaled down the opening from 2,000 to 800 theaters, according to a 24 Oct 2006 DV article. However, even with the cutbacks, Borat took in more money in its opening weekend than any other film, and went on to gross more than $100,000,000 at the North American box office.
       According to the Rolling Stone article, the Borat team, a small crew numbering eight to twenty people, filmed 400 hours of interviews, plus fifty hours of behind-the-scenes footage. The interview requests were sent from a fake British production company. The interview subjects were all asked to sign a standard consent agreement allowing producers to use their real identities onscreen. In the scenes shot in public places, such as a hotel lobby or elevator, passersby were given releases to sign before they entered the public area. The article added that a lawyer was kept on constant retainer, and before each scene, producers would consult with the lawyer about the legality of the situation. Salon.com writers David Marchese and Willa Paskin tracked down some of Borat’s subjects to determine how their interviews were arranged. For the rodeo scene at the Salem Civic Center in Salem, VA, in which Borat antagonizes the crowd with his anti-George W. Bush remarks and rendition of the Kazakh national anthem, the rodeo’s producer, Bobby Rowe, believed Borat’s cover story and agreed to allow him to sing the anthem. Although Rowe requested a sample track from Borat, he was sent a blank CD. In a Roanoake Times article quoted in the Salon.com piece, the Civic Center’s assistant director noted that if Borat and his crew had not quickly fled the arena, “There would have been a riot. They would have been killed.”
       The bed-and-breakfast scene in which Borat is horrified when he realizes that his hosts are Jewish was filmed at a kosher bed-and-breakfast in Newton, MA, owned by Mariam and Joseph Behar. The Behars rented out three rooms to guests they were told were a Kazakh documentary filmmaker and his crew. The Behars noted that the only irregularity was that the producers asked them to bring food to Borat’s room, a service which they do not normally offer.
       Kathie Martin, the etiquette teacher who gives Borat advice about how to behave at a dinner party, was told by the film’s producers that a Kazakh reporter would like to have a lesson before beginning his travels to avoid embarrassing himself. Cindy Streit, a Birmingham etiquette coach, arranged and appeared in the dinner party scene at the Magnolia Springs Manor in Helena, AL, a Southern plantation home built in 1875. Streit was told that the session was to be filmed as part of a documentary for Belarus Television. Grace Welch, Linda Stein and Carole De Saram, members of a group called Veteran Feminists of America, were told that they would be appearing a documentary to help women in Third World countries. According to the article, after Stein terminated the interview because of Borat’s misogynistic comments, the producer begged the women to continue the interview because “he’s [Borat] from a third world country… and doesn’t know any better.” Michael Psenicksa, the owner of a driving school in Baltimore County, MD, who gives Borat a driving lesson, was contacted by someone saying that his production company was filming a documentary about foreigners learning how to drive. Jim Sell, a car salesman in Gaithersburg, MD, who tries to sell Borat a car, was contacted by a man posing as a producer of a documentary, claiming that he wanted to film Borat negotiating the price of a vehicle.
       After WAPT television in Jackson, MS, was contacted about conducting an interview with a reporter from Kazakhstan, the station researched the production company, and finding that it had its own web site, agreed to the interview. After Borat was released, the station upgraded its policies on researching guests, and Dharma Arthur, the woman responsible for booking Borat on the show, was released from her contract early. Larry Walker, the owner of the Vicksburg, MS, antique store in which Borat broke $500 worth of merchandise, was contacted by a producer asking to visit his store in order to film a “Belarussian documentary about life in the South.”
       David Corcoran, one of the three members of the University of South Carolina chapter of the Chi Psi fraternity who pick up Borat on the side of the road explained how he was contacted: “This guy said they were filming a Kazakh reporter who wanted to hang out with frat guys. They met ten of us and I guess chose the three who wouldn’t recognize Borat.” Corcoran said that the producers paid the three men to drink at a bar, then put them in an RV and instructed them to pick up Borat as if he were hitchhiking. The scenes in Borat’s home in Kazakhstan were filmed in Glod, Romania, a village of 1,000 people, who were told that the filming was for a documentary about their hardships.
       After the film was released, a number of Baron Cohen’s subjects filed lawsuits. According to a 20 Nov 2006 LAT article, the villagers of Glod, Romania, filed a lawsuit against the film for $30,000,000 in damages, claiming that they were lied to about the true nature of the film, which, they allege, ridiculed them on ethnic grounds. Spirea Ciorobea, who portrayed the “village mechanic and abortionist,” charged that he was asked to play a welder and had no idea that he was also to be depicted as an abortionist. Nicu Tudorache, one of the villagers represented in the suit, accused the crew of treating them like "fools because we couldn’t understand their language.” Tudorache continued that the villagers were deceived by the film crew, who led them to believe that they were interested in filming the difficult living conditions in Glod. The villagers, who were paid four dollars a day for participating in the film, are seeking $5,000,000 to improve their schools and other infrastructure and $25,000,000 in humanitarian aid. As of Jan 2007, the outcome of the suit has not been determined.
       Cindy Streit, the etiquette teacher featured in the film, filed a lawsuit against Baron Cohen, saying that she was misled during the production of the movie, according to a 17 Nov 2006 Reuters posting. An 8 Dec 2006 LAT news item noted that Justin Seay and Christopher Rotunda, two Chi Psi fraternity brothers of Corcoran who appeared in the film, asked that their scenes be excised on the grounds that the producers assured them that the film would only be shown in Kazakhstan and got them drunk before they signed the release form. Although the judge dismissed that suit, an 11 Dec 2006 LAT article noted that the fraternity brothers also filed a lawsuit for unspecified monetary damages, claiming that the film “made plaintiffs the objects of ridicule, humiliation, mental anguish and emotional and physical distress.” According to an 8 Jan 2007 DV article, the lawsuits by plaintiffs seeking to have their scenes excised from the DVD release have been defeated. A 9 Nov 2006 article in the International Herald Tribune noted that although Kazakhstan did not ban the film, it strongly urged that the film not be distributed there. In response, Gemini Films, Fox’s subsidiary in the region, agreed not to show Borat in Kazakhstan. Additional location filming was done in Washington, D.C., West Virginia, Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Alabama and South Carolina.
       In addition to the lawsuits, Borat created legal problems for the crew, as well as diplomatic controversy. The pressbook noted that the Secret Service questioned the filmmakers outside the White House, the Louisiana State Troopers launched an investigation into the film crew and the FBI often followed the filmmakers, whom the residents of several locales suspected of being terrorists. Crew members Monica Levinson and Dale Stern were arrested by the New York police for taking items from a local hotel, which they had intended to use for props. Rolling Stone noted that a warrant was issued in New York for Baron Cohen’s arrest after a hotel manager filed charges against him for taking a blanket and alarm clock from his room. He narrowly avoided deportation when the crew shipped him out of state to New Jersey. According to a 4 Dec 2006 LAT news item, the crew filmed a scene in California's Imperial County jail as part of a plot twist about Borat being arrested as an illegal alien while crossing into the U.S. When the sheriff realized what was happening, he ordered the crew out of the jail and threatened to file a lawsuit if the footage was used in the film. According to a 2 Oct 2006 article in Var , the Foreign Ministry of Kazakhstan threatened to sue Baron Cohen unless he removed a website entitled www.borat.kz, which boasted that the country’s economy was based on its prostitutes being the cleanest in Asia. To counter Borat’s slander, Kazakhstan placed a four-page supplement in NYT to extol its economic prospects. When the president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazabayev, visited George W. Bush at the White House, Baron Cohen as Borat held his own news conference in front of the Kazakh embassy to protest the NYT supplement, denouncing it as a “disgusting fabrication.”
       Before Borat became a box-office and media sensation, Universal agreed to pay Baron Cohen and Roach $17,500,000 for the actor’s next film, which will be based on his character of Bruno. Universal also agreed to pay $25,000,000 for the distribution rights to the film and to pay Cohen fifteen percent of the box-office gross before the studio recoups its expenses, according to a 27 Nov 2006 LAT article. However, the article speculated that the spate of lawsuits against Borat might engender problems for development of the Bruno project.
       Borat marked the first starring role for Ken Davitian, who played “Azamat Bagatov” in the film. According to a 6 Dec 2006 news item in The Flint Journal , during his audition, Davitian pretended to be an immigrant speaking in a foreign language, fooling both Baron Cohen and director Charles. Davitian, of Armenian origin, speaks Armenian in the film. Dan Mazer, who co-wrote and executive produced the film as well as producing Da Ali G Show , met Baron Cohen in school when the two were eleven years old, according to Rolling Stone .
       In addition to being selected as one of AFI’s Movies of the Year, Borat was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, was nominated by the Writers Guild of America for Best Adapted Screenplay and received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture—Musical or Comedy. Baron Cohen received the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture—Musical or Comedy, and won the Best Actor award from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the San Francisco Film Critics Circle. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
19 Jan 2005
p. 6, 55.
Daily Variety
24 Oct 2006
p. 1, 12.
Daily Variety
8 Jan 2007.
---
Entertainment Weekly
20 Oct 2006
pp. 32--38.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Nov 2006.
---
International Herald Tribune
9 Nov 2006.
---
L.A. Weekly
27 Oct 2006.
---
Los Angeles Times
9 Sep 2006
Calendar, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
3 Nov 2006.
---
Los Angeles Times
20 Nov 2006
Section E, p. 1, 5.
Los Angeles Times
21 Nov 2006.
---
Los Angeles Times
27 Nov 2006
Section C, p. 1, 3.
Los Angeles Times
4 Dec 2006
Calendar, p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
8 Dec 2006.
---
Los Angeles Times
11 Dec 2006.
---
Los Angeles Times
22 Dec 2006
Calendar, p. 30.
Los Angeles Times
22 Jan 2007
Section E, p. 4.
New York Times
3 Nov 2006.
---
Rolling Stone
30 Nov 2006
pp. 58--70.
The Flint Journal
6 Dec 2006.
---
Variety
10 Sep 2006.
---
Variety
2 Oct 2006.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Co-prod
WRITERS
Scr
Based on a character created by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
ART DIRECTORS
Items from Kazakhstan des by
Art dir, Romania unit
Art dir, addl photog
FILM EDITORS
Addl ed
1st asst ed
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
SET DECORATORS
Props consultant
Mr. Baron Cohen's feces provided by
MUSIC
Mus researcher
Scoring mixer
Recordist
Stage eng
Orch contractor
Orch leader
SOUND
Prod sd mixer
Supv sd ed
Supv dial and ADR ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Sd editorial by
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec recordist
Re-rec recordist
Post prod sd re-rec
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley mixer
ADR stage
ADR mixer
ADR recordist
Loop group
Loop group
Loop group
Loop group
Loop group
Loop group
Loop group
Loop group
Loop group
Loop group
Loop group
Loop group
Loop group
Loop group
Dolby sd consultant
VISUAL EFFECTS
Visual eff, titles and graphics
VFX/Graphic supv
Anthem des by
Anthem des by
Anthem seq by
Anthem seq by
Anthem seq by
Anthem seq by
End titles
MAKEUP
Makeup artist/Hair stylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Consultant
Voice casting
Borat's image created by
Unit prod mgr
Unit prod mgr
Kidnapping consultant
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Prod coord, addl photog
Asst prod coord, addl photog
Field supv
Field supv
Field supv
Field coord
Field coord
Field coord
Field coord, addl photog
Field coord, addl photog
Researcher
Researcher
Research consultant
Prod accountant
Asst accountant
1st asst accountant, addl photog
1st asst accountant, addl photog
Key set prod asst
Prod asst
Asst to Mr. Baron Cohen
Asst to Mr. Baron Cohen, NY
Ed asst to Mr. Baron Cohen
Asst to Mr. Charles
Asst to Mr. Charles
Behind the scenes
Transportation coord
Driver
Driver
Driver
Post prod supv
Post prod supv
Post prod asst
Addl prod supv
Prod supv, addl photog
Prod supv, addl photog
Web consultant
Bears provided by
Head trainer
Trainer
Trainer
Trainer
Prod counsel
Prod counsel
Prod counsel
Prod counsel
Travel
Travel
Romanian prod services provided by
STAND INS
Naked fight coord
Action team
Action team
Action team
COLOR PERSONNEL
Digital intermediate col timer
SOURCES
MUSIC
Music from Jingle All the Way composed by David Newman, courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp
"Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, II Andante" written by W. A. Mozart, courtesy of 5 Alarm Music
"Siki Siki Baba" written by Nestor Cok Rakia, performed by Kocani Orkestar, courtesy of Crammed Discs, by arrangement with Ocean Park Music Group.
SONGS
"Chaje Shukarije," written and performed by Esma Redzepova, courtesy of Times Square Records/World Connection Enterprises
"Magic Mamaligia" and "Money Boney," written by German Popov, performed by O.M.F.O., courtesy of Essay Recordings GmbH, by arrangement with The Royalty Network, Inc.
"Eu Vin Acasa Cu Drag," written and performed by Stefan de la Barbulesti, courtesy of AMMA
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SONGS
"Chaje Shukarije," written and performed by Esma Redzepova, courtesy of Times Square Records/World Connection Enterprises
"Magic Mamaligia" and "Money Boney," written by German Popov, performed by O.M.F.O., courtesy of Essay Recordings GmbH, by arrangement with The Royalty Network, Inc.
"Eu Vin Acasa Cu Drag," written and performed by Stefan de la Barbulesti, courtesy of AMMA
"Mahalageasca," written by Mahala, performed by Mahala Rai Banda, courtesy of Crammed Discs, by arrangement with Ocean Park Music
"Everybody's Talkin’," written by Fred Neil, performed by Harry Nilsson, courtesy of MGM Music Inc. under license from Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.
"Aisle Two," written and performed by Daniel May, courtesy of Mastersource/Marc Ferrari
"Take My Breath Away," written by Giorgio Moroder and Tom Whitlock, performed by Berlin, courtesy of Paramount Pictures
"Ederlezi," "Lullaby," "Dreams," "Talijanska," "Le Matin" and "Kalasnjikov," written and performed by Goran Bregovic, courtesy of Mercury Records France, a Division of Universal Music S.A., under license from Universal Music Enterprises
"Born to Be Wild," written by Mars Bonfire, performed by Steppenwolf, courtesy of Geffen Records, under license from Universal Music Enterprises
"Ridin' the Rodeo," written by Vince Gill and Kostas Lazarides, performed by Vince Gill, courtesy of MCA Nashville, under license from Universal Music Enterprises
"Heart Says Yes," written and performed by Joey Scarbury, courtesy of Mastersource/Marc Ferrari
"Szerelem, Szerelem," written by Marta Sebestyen, performed by Marta Sebestyen & Muzikas, courtesy of Hungatoon Records
"U Can't Touch This," written by Kirk Burrell, James Johnson and Alonzo Miller, performed by MC Hammer, courtesy of Capitol Records, under license from EMI Film & Television Music
"Nothin' Like Being Able," written by Frank O'Brien
"The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power," written by Andrae' Crouch
"There Is Power in the Blood," traditional
"Glory in My Soul," written by Howard McCrary, performed by Mekka Johnson, courtesy of Mastersource/Marc Ferrari
"Amen, Amen," traditional
"Istoria Na Edna Lyubov (Lover Song)," written by Ivo Papasov, performed by Ivo Papasov & His Orchestra, courtesy of Hannibal Records, a Rykodisc label
"My Friend Franz," written and performed by Ken Korade, courtesy of Kid Gloves Music
"Mahalageasca (Remix)," written by Mahala, performed by Mahala Rai Banda featuring Shantel, courtesy of Crammed Discs, by arrangement with Ocean Park Music
"Born to Be Wild," written by Mars Bonfire, performed by Fanfare Ciocarlia, produced by Henry Ernst, remixed at Bison Bison Studios, S.F. by Lora Hirschberg, Fanfare Ciocarlia performs courtesy of Asphalt Tango Records
"O Kazakhstan," music by Erran Baron Cohen, lyrics by Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Peter Baynham, Todd Phillips, Dan Greaney, Jeff Poloquin and Pattton Oswalt, performed by Erran Baron Cohen.
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DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
Borat The Movie
Release Date:
3 November 2006
Premiere Information:
Cannes Film Festival sneak preview: 23 May 2006
Toronto Film Festival premiere: 7 September 2006
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation & Dune Entertainment, LLC
Copyright Date:
1 November 2006
Copyright Number:
PA0001337285
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Digital in selected theatres
Color
Modern Videofilm
Lenses/Prints
DeLuxe; lenses and cameras by Abel Cinetech
Duration(in mins):
82-84 or 89
MPAA Rating:
R
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
42670
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In the poverty-stricken village of Kuzcek, Kazakhstan, Kazakh television journalist Borat Sagdiyev explains that the Ministry of Information has decided to send him to the “U. S. of A” to make a documentary film about how the country deals with problems of “the economy and the Jews,” issues that have been plaguing Kazakhstan. Before setting off for America in his horse-drawn automobile with his producer, Azamat Bagatov, Borat introduces his sister, the “number 4 prostitute in Kazakhstan,” the town mechanic and abortionist and Borat’s corpulent, shrewish wife, and shows a film clip of himself narrating “The Running of the Jew,” the town’s most revered festival. Upon arriving in New York, Borat and Azamat board the subway, where Borat introduces himself to his fellow passengers by kissing them, which is met by universal hostility. The chicken Borat carries in his suitcase then escapes, sending Borat on a wild chase through the subway car to recapture the bird. At the Hotel Wellington, Borat mistakes the elevator car, spacious by Kazakh standards, as his hotel room, and once ensconced in his room, splashes his face with water from the toilet. After washing his underpants in Central Park, defecating in front of Trump Tower and masturbating in front of the lingerie store Victoria’s Secret, Borat has a lesson with Pat Haggerty, a humor counselor who is flummoxed when the Kazakh asks him for a joke about mental retardation. Back at the hotel, Borat falls in love at first sight when he sees actress Pamela Anderson on the television show Baywatch , in which she ... +


In the poverty-stricken village of Kuzcek, Kazakhstan, Kazakh television journalist Borat Sagdiyev explains that the Ministry of Information has decided to send him to the “U. S. of A” to make a documentary film about how the country deals with problems of “the economy and the Jews,” issues that have been plaguing Kazakhstan. Before setting off for America in his horse-drawn automobile with his producer, Azamat Bagatov, Borat introduces his sister, the “number 4 prostitute in Kazakhstan,” the town mechanic and abortionist and Borat’s corpulent, shrewish wife, and shows a film clip of himself narrating “The Running of the Jew,” the town’s most revered festival. Upon arriving in New York, Borat and Azamat board the subway, where Borat introduces himself to his fellow passengers by kissing them, which is met by universal hostility. The chicken Borat carries in his suitcase then escapes, sending Borat on a wild chase through the subway car to recapture the bird. At the Hotel Wellington, Borat mistakes the elevator car, spacious by Kazakh standards, as his hotel room, and once ensconced in his room, splashes his face with water from the toilet. After washing his underpants in Central Park, defecating in front of Trump Tower and masturbating in front of the lingerie store Victoria’s Secret, Borat has a lesson with Pat Haggerty, a humor counselor who is flummoxed when the Kazakh asks him for a joke about mental retardation. Back at the hotel, Borat falls in love at first sight when he sees actress Pamela Anderson on the television show Baywatch , in which she plays a sexy lifeguard. Later, Borat interviews three feminists, who try to explain to him that women are equal to men. When Borat remarks that they cannot be equal because women have smaller brains, then calls one of the women “pussycat,” the women walk off the set. Borat returns to his hotel, where he receives a telegram that his wife has been killed by a bear, and joyously kisses the man who delivered the good news. Determined to meet Pamela, Borat tells Azamat that instead of focusing on New York, they are going to California. Azamat reluctantly agrees after being reassured that they will not have to fly there because he is afraid that "the Jews" might repeat their attack of 9/11. After taking a driving lesson in which he offers his teacher a swig of alcohol and yells obscenities at passing motorists, Borat goes to buy a car, telling the salesman that he “wants a pussy magnet.” The salesman tries to explain that although there is no such thing, women are attracted by Hummers or Corvettes, but the deal falls through when Borat explains that he can only spend $650. Borat buys an ice cream truck instead, after which he and Azamat head west, their first stop being Washington, D.C., the home of “warlord George W. Bush.” There Borat meets with former congressman Bob Barr, who blanches when Borat announces that the piece of cheese he offered the congressman was made from his wife’s breast milk. Borat then interviews two-time presidential candidate Alan Keyes, an African American whom he calls “chocolate face." Borat's next stop is WAPT television news in Mississippi, where, after announcing on camera that he has to urinate, he stands up out of camera range. After the interviewer hurriedly terminates the segment, Borat barges into the weatherman’s broadcast, causing the hapless weatherman to break out laughing. At a rodeo in Virginia, where Borat is to sing the national anthem, the rodeo’s general manager, Bobby Rowe, earnestly advises Borat to shave his mustache lest people think he is a Muslim terrorist. The audience turns against Borat, however, when he solemnly pronounces that he hopes George Bush drinks the blood of every single man, woman and child in Iraq, then begins singing the Kazakhstan national anthem to the tune of "The Star Spangled Banner.” After being chased out of the rodeo grounds, Borat and Azamat continue their journey, stopping at a garage sale that Borat mistakes for a gypsy village. There Borat unearths a magazine devoted to Baywatch and promptly buys it. Becoming lost, Borat turns off the highway to ask a group of young black men for directions. Impressed by their street clothes and language, Borat asks them to teach him how to dress, and under their tutelage, learns to pull his pants down around his hips. Later, when Borat enters an exclusive hotel lobby with his underwear protruding from his pants and calls the clerk “vanilla face,” he is thrown out. Proceeding to a bed-and-breakfast, Borat and Azamat are terror-stricken upon learning that their hosts are Jewish. Later, when the couple delivers a sandwich to his room, Borat is certain that they are trying to poison them and, as soon as their backs are turned, spits it out. Late that night, when several cockroaches climb under the door to their room, Borat and Azamat believe that the Jews have shape-shifted, and after throwing some dollar bills at the insects to appease them, they flee. Deciding that he needs a gun to protect himself, Borat stops at a gun shop where he asks the clerk what is the best gun to defend himself against a Jew. Unfazed, the clerk calmly discusses the attributes of each weapon, but ultimately refuses to sell Borat a gun because he is not an American citizen. Deciding instead to buy a bear for protection, Borat and Azamat continue their journey, stopping to visit Birmingham, Alabama, etiquette coach Kathie Martin so she can give Borat pointers about how to behave at a dinner party. Later, at a decorous dinner party at the Magnolia Mansion arranged by etiquette coach Cindy Streit, Borat excuses himself to use the bathroom. In his absence, the other dinner guests comment on how charming he is and how easily he could be “Americanized,” until Borat returns with a bag of feces. Soon after, when Luenell, a plump black prostitute whom Borat has invited to dine with him arrives, the other guests promptly excuse themselves and the hostess calls the sheriff to oust Borat. Luenell and Borat then go to a club where they enjoy riding a mechanical bull together. Some time later, Borat accidentally demolishes the merchandise in an antique store where he has gone to buy a gift for Pamela. Azamat and Borat then check into a hotel, and when Borat finishes soaking in the bathtub, he comes into the bedroom and finds Azamat masturbating to the Baywatch magazine. Furious that his sweetheart is being defiled, Borat falls upon Azamat, and the two naked men begin to throw each other around the room. When Azamat runs into the hallway, Borat follows, and the two proceed down the elevator and burst into a ballroom filled with a convention of businessmen. After Borat and Azamat are ejected from the hotel, Azamat, blaming Borat for their bad luck, takes off with the bear, as well as Borat’s money and passport. Deciding to continue making the documentary, Borat continues on alone, but when the ice cream truck breaks down, he hitches a ride with three drunken fraternity boys in an RV. After making several anti-Semitic and misogynistic comments, the boys show Borat a sex video of Pamela. Crushed, Borat, who thought that Pamela was a virgin, leaves the RV in despair. He falls asleep in front of an Evangelical church, and upon awakening, is welcomed by the head of the congregation who promises that “Jesus can help" him. When the reverend lays hands on Borat, the Kazakh begins speaking in tongues and is embraced by the flock. Borat then decides to forgive Pamela and proceed to California with “his friend Jesus.” Outside the Mann’s Chinese Theater on Hollywood Blvd., Borat spots Azamat dressed as comic Oliver Hardy. The two friends embrace, after which Azamat presents Borat with a file he has compiled on Pamela, indicating that she is scheduled to be at a book signing the next day. The following day, Borat proceeds to the bookstore carrying a “wedding sack” with which he intends to procure Pamela. After eagerly waiting in line, Borat approaches Pamela and slips the bag over her head. Struggling, Pamela runs away and is chased into the parking lot by Borat, where several security guards tackle him. Determining it is time to return home, Borat reflects on his journey and, realizing that Luenell is a true treasure, asks her to go to Kazakhstan as his wife. Eight months later, in the village of Kuzcek, Borat assures the audience that reforms have been instituted, citing that the ritual of the “Running of the Jew” has been replaced by pinioning a farmer to a cross. Joined by Luenell and the villagers, Borat waves goodbye. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.