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'Very Nice!' - Kazakhstan taps new Borat movie to woo tourists

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'Very Nice!' - Kazakhstan taps new Borat movie to woo tourists

By Andrew Osborn and Mariya Gordeyeva



FILE PHOTO: British actor Sacha Baron Cohen, in character as a Kazakh TV reporter known as 'Borat', holds a boomerang as he mingles with fans in Sydney November 13, 2006 during the Australian premiere of his film "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan". REUTERS/David Gray/File Photo


MOSCOW/ALMATY (Reuters) - Ridiculed once again in a film featuring fictional Kazakh journalist Borat Sagdiyev, the ex-Soviet state of Kazakhstan has embraced the joke this time round and adopted Borat's catch phrase to try to attract tourists.


"Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan," a follow-up to a 2006 film featuring the same sexist and racist character, was released on Amazon Prime last week.


Like the first film, the movie has Borat on the rampage in the United States where he tries to trick U.S. politicians and others into letting their guard down and compromising themselves.


Borat's first outing caused anger in Kazakhstan where authorities discouraged its screening and threatened legal action over what they saw as an insult to their national character.


Kazakhstan has found itself the center of the joke once again with the release of another movie featuring fictional journalist Borat. However, this time the ex-Soviet state is embracing the joke and has adopted Borat's catch phrase to try to attract tourists. Adam Reed reports.


This time round, they have taken a different approach and adopted Borat's catchphrase "Very Nice!" to try to promote tourism in the vast Central Asian country.


In a slick video released by the tourism board featuring spectacular mountains and lakes, an exotic food market, and futuristic-looking cityscapes, a series of foreign tourists use the catch phrase to signal their appreciation for what they are seeing.


The idea to use Borat's catch phrase belongs to Dennis Keen, a U.S. citizen living in Kazakhstan, who is married to a Kazakh woman and has a business running walking tours.


"It was something I'd been thinking about for years as everyone who comes here is aware of the Borat thing being attached to the country's brand," Keen told Reuters.


Borat's "Very Nice!" catch phase could be put to good use instead, he said.


"It's actually the perfect description of the country in the most sincere way. The people and the food are very nice."


Sacha Baron Cohen, the director and star of both "Borat" movies, said the films were comedies.


"I chose Kazakhstan because it was a place that almost nobody in the U.S. knew anything about, which allowed us to create a wild, comedic, fake world. The real Kazakhstan is a beautiful country with a modern, proud society - the opposite of Borat’s version,” Baron Cohen said in a statement.


COVID-19 means tourism in Kazakhstan has been hard hit by travel restrictions and border closures like many other countries.


But Kairat Sadvakassov, Deputy Chairman of Kazakh Tourism, said he hoped the campaign would help people see that Borat's jokes about the country were off target when the situation improved.


"We would like everyone to come experience Kazakhstan for themselves by visiting our country in 2021 and beyond, so that they can see that Borat's homeland is nicer than they may have heard,” Sadvakassov said in a news release.


Still, Kazakh authorities remain unimpressed with the film.


In a statement issued by the foreign ministry on Saturday, officials said the new movie was racist and xenophobic, but that an official protest was pointless because it would only generate more publicity and profits for the film's makers.


(Writing by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Janet Lawrence and Giles Elgood)



-- © Copyright Reuters 2020-10-28


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1 minute ago, ezzra said:

Now That's how you sell a movie.. you get some backward country to act as you agent.. Brilliant Sacha....

He should never have used the name of a real country... there are plenty of ex-countries, regions or slight twists on names that would have fooled most of his dupes equally well, without exposing millions of people ('backward' or not) to ridicule.

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2 hours ago, onebir said:

He should never have used the name of a real country... there are plenty of ex-countries, regions or slight twists on names that would have fooled most of his dupes equally well, without exposing millions of people ('backward' or not) to ridicule.

At what point did you come to think that Sacha Baron Cohen gives a damn about the feelings of others?

I get a laugh from some of his stuff, but he essentially preys on the decency of people and selectively edits their responses for maximum embarrassment. Humiliating an entire nation means nothing when balanced against the massive free publicity he knew he would get when their government publicly complained.

This latest movie was a deft reframing of his message, with a strong anti-Republican skew, to avoid getting canceled for the stuff he did in the first Borat movie. He is a survivor, in common with all psychopaths.


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Just watched this last night actually. Sort of funny, sometimes. Still plays heavily on the "foreigner who doesn't understand America" cliches.
The more I think about it, the more I think the whole thing is a joke.

I was having a hard time trying to figure out if most of those "extras" were real people or actors because their actions seemed ridiculously "dumb" under the circumstances.

Supposedly they are all real people. One media site (IndieWire) tried to get in contact with them and either they couldn't be reached or they refused to be interviewed (even while confirming that the shops/businesses shown in the movie were genuine). 

There's no way they could film all those scenes without the people involved knowing what was going on. How would you get high quality "hidden" film cameras into a plastic surgeon's office or the office of a pastor at a pro-life health clinic without anyone noticing ? Multiple cameras in fact, as the view changes all the time.

Apparently though, some of the people in the movie weren't aware they were going to be in a movie like this (supposedly). They thought the parts they did were for a different kind of movie. Like the "professional babysitter" who (supposedly) thought it was going to be in a documentary about girls being groomed/gifted to older men. 

I started getting the impression that some (most) of those people were actually actors, trying to play "ordinary" people in staged "cameo" appearances. Their reactions to what was going on in the scene were too dead-panned, or plain just unbelievable.

Like the plastic surgeon who chuckles when asked by the "daughter" if he'd do a "sex attack" on her and then says "well, if your father wasn't here......" (Which came after he gave a vastly over-exaggerated impression of what he thought typical Jewish noses looked like.) I seriously doubt any real plastic surgeon would make such a statement - especially with the girl's "father" sitting next to her !

The babysitter - who thought she was doing a bit (and was paid quite well for it) about girls being groomed to be "given" to older men, then claimed that she worried about "the daughter" for weeks afterwards and asked her fellow church members to pray for the girl - but never ONCE called the cops or Child Services. I mean, if she really was that worried about it why didn't she alert the authorities ?
No problems though - her church pastor set up a GoFundMe to compensate her for her worries - they've managed to get over $17,000 of their $100,000 goal. That's a lot of worrying !
Especially as she knew the whole thing was being filmed for some kind of movie/documentary. Yet afterwards she acts like she thinks it was all real and the girl was really being "groomed" ? 
Like the (black) woman in the bakery who is asked to write "Jews Will Not Replace Us" on a cake and to add some "smiley faces" to it, and she does it without hesitation. Note: it seems the phrase "Jews Will Not Replace Us" was a rallying cry for the white supremists at the rally in Charleston, Virginia in 2017 (where a neo-nazi sympathizer rammed a car into a group of counter-protestors). (The bakery signed a contract to be in the film but the woman who did the cake couldn't be reached for comment.)

The pastor at the pro-life health clinic who hears what surely sounded like a father admitting he'd knocked up his teenage daughter and wanted to abort the baby and the pastor, like the babysitter, did nothing ? He was apparently more concerned about the girl keeping her incestuous rape baby than about the fact the father seemingly was admitting to knocking her up. He even states that how she ended up being pregnant "wasn't important". (Same thing, the clinic is real but the "pastor" couldn't be reached for comment.)

The guy at the phone store and the guy at the copy/fax shop seemed totally oblivious to what was going on. Both shops are real but, again, the "employees" couldn't be reached for comment.

The guy at the hardware store who recommends the larger propane bottle when asked how much would be needed to gas 20 gypsies (after selling Borat a cage to hold his daughter in and high-fiving with Borat after he (Borat) makes a comment about Trump caging Mexican children). Again, the store is real, but the employee ? 

A couple scenes were real. However, you've really got to wonder about them.

Like when Giuliani was doing the "interview" with the cute, blonde, female reporter and then, without hesitation, goes into the bedroom with her "for a drink" (and asks for her phone number while sitting himself on the bed) ? 
There is no doubt he thought he was about to score some strange, especially when he sits on the bed and she squats down in front of him to "remove his microphone" (which apparently required her to pull Giuliani's shirt up out of his pants and he makes no effort to stop her).  

(The controversy afterwards came from the way Giuliani then laid back on the bed and started tucking his shirt back into his pants, with his hand going up to the wrist in his pants while the girl is still standing in front of him. He tried to claim afterwards that he saw through the prank but the truth is, he acted like he thought he was going to score right up until Cohen burst in and said "she's 15 - she's too old for you". That is when he reacted, not because he "saw through the prank" but because he thought he'd just been caught in a bedroom having drinks with an underaged girl and him with his hand down his pants.)

The old Jewish woman in the synagogue was an actual holocaust survivor. Apparently she didn't know what was really going on and never gave her consent to being in the film (according to her descendants). She died before the film was released so her descendants are suing (of course). Cohen claims they revealed the gag to her right after it was filmed and they dedicated the movie to her after she died.
(By the way, Cohen was apparently "raised Jewish" and speaks fluent Hebrew.)

The "Wuhan Flu" song ? He actually did that at a "Three Percenters" rally in Washington state back in June and a lot of the people there were singing along (gleefully) to lyrics like "chop em up like the Saudis do" and "inject them with the Wuhan Flu".
When the organizers figured out (eventually) that it was a prank, they apparently rushed the stage. Cohen was wearing body armour and says he barely escaped as people were pounding on the vehicle he was in and trying to pull the door open to get at him (and a lot of them were carrying semi-auto weapons). (It seems he went back to the event dressed as a photo-journalist and interviewed people about what had happened but that didn't make it into the film. Maybe it'll be in the "director's cut" or some special edition DVD release.

The 2 right-wing conspiracy nuts ? They are (supposedly) real as well. Cohen apparently lived with them for 5 days and had to stay in character the whole time. (Though no one seems to be able to get in touch with those 2 either.)

He really did go to that convention dressed in a KKK suit and no one stopped him ! 
And when he went back dressed as Trump, apparently no one (except the Secret Service protection detail and probably Pence himself) realized it was a costume. 

And when you think about it, I doubt the "real" people in most of those scenes would have acted like they did, unless they were actors.

I mean seriously, a plastic surgeon suggesting he might consider making a "sex attack" on a young girl "if her father wasn't there" ?
A guy suggesting that if you wanted to "gas 20 gypsies" you'd probably want a larger propane bottle ?

And when you look at the movie credits on IMDB, of all those "real" people, only 1 appears in the credits (the chick who was the self styled "Influencer" and "Sugar Baby").
Hanks, Pence, Giuliani are listed as "Self" and a few of the actors portrayed as Khazak villagers (and the Khazak President) are listed (without photos). (They are actually Romanian it seems.)

But the babysitter ? Surgeon ? Pastor ? Debutante coach ? None of those people appear in the credits at all.

I think that most of the "real people" clips were staged and used to add content to the rest of the movie while they hope people will be dumb enough to believe them (which they will). That is probably why the names of those people aren't in the credits, to make it hard to find them and prove that the clips were staged.

(I'm scrolling through the credits again just to make sure.)

The movie does seem to go out of it's way to slam Trump and the Republicans and the timing of the release furthers that notion, though in the long run it probably won't make that much difference.

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