Kazakhs, foreigners agree Borat’s take on Kazakhstan Very Nice! …Not!
Nur-Sultan, Nov 30 (efe-epa).- Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, British filmmaker Sacha Baron Cohen’s sequel about the adventures of a Kazakh journalist, continues to generate irritation since its release last month, with residents in Kazakhstan strongly disputing its “unrealistic and uninformed” image of the country.
In the film, Cohen himself takes a critical and satirical look at society through the character Borat Sagdiyev, who travels to the United States and contrasts the extremes of both cultures.
Despite showing Kazakhstan as a country of ancient traditions, people such as British teacher Inna Hakobyan said Kazakhs “are open to the way they are, they are open to accepting foreigners,” while Kazakh architect Zhemis Kapakova said it was a place where “you are free to work in whatever you want to work and can be whoever you want to be.”
Misogyny and sexism are two of the issues addressed in the film, especially in characterizing the relationship between Borat and his daughter. Kapakova says, though, that “much of industry is created by women, and many women own businesses, own the big stores.”
Kazakh journalist and blogger Shiara Rahim says that in her country women do not wear burkas, hijabs, or cover their faces.
“We are free and successful women. In my environment, I have a lot of friends, wonderful, talented and successful women,” Rahim said in an interview with Efe.
To make matters worse, the images of Kazakhstan shown in the film were actually shot in Romania, adding to Cohen’s deceptive portrayal of the country.
The little known former Soviet republic made an easy target for Cohen’s indifference, despite Kazakhstan’s geopolitical importance.
Located in Central Asia, Kazakhstan shares borders with China, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. It is the world’s ninth-largest country where more than 100 ethnic groups live in peace among a population of only 18 million.
“The film, for example, does not show the weather, it could have perfectly made a satire about that because it is very cold here,” Spaniard Pedro Mantilla said, who considers that “the problems it shows are exaggerated and it is not accurate.”
Diego Amado, also from Spain and who has been living in the Central Asian country for five years, describes Borat as a comedy that “tries to represent the racist issues that we have in Europe and show us directly.”
Amado admits that there are “cultural differences” but neither “women are locked up in cages, nor is there racism, anti-Semitism or misogyny intrinsic in Kazakh society.”
Israeli ambassador to Kazakhstan, Liat Wexelman, says that the Jewish community feels “safe and welcome” in Kazakhstan and praises their efforts in organizing conferences on tolerance and respect between different ethnic groups, religions and ideologies.
Therefore, John Coles, director of a British school in the capital Nur-Sultan, hopes that the audience are intelligent enough to see Sacha Baron Cohen’s performance as a character that seeks “to show the stupidity and ignorance of other people.”
“That’s what the actor is trying to do. He has attached himself to Kazakhstan because these people don’t know much about Kazakhstan, so he plays on their ignorance of what they think that Kazakhstan is like,” the teacher said.
According to the film’s distributor, Amazon Studios, the sequel reached tens of millions in the first weekend of its release, keeping interest in Borat alive fourteen years after the first film. EFE-EPA