Artist: Sacha Baron Cohen, the film's director and 20th Century Fox, the distributor.|
Confronting Bodies: The Federal Culture and Cinematography Agency, which certifies films for public distribution.
Date of Action: November, 2006
Specific Location: Russia
Description of Artwork: “Borat” is a satire of an imaginary Kazakhstan and a much more real U.S., which includes crude language and behavior, like naked men wrestling. It depicts its hero — who, while not explicitly Muslim, is from a country with a large Sunni Muslim population — as deeply backward, deeply prejudiced and deeply foolish.
An agency official, Yury V. Vasyuchkov, cited the film’s potential to offend religious and ethnic feelings in a country where such feelings have been strained in recent months by ethnically tinged political conflicts and even violence.
The agency’s decision amounted to the first such restriction on a film’s public distribution — pornography aside — since the Soviet system of censorship collapsed in the late 1980s. In doing so, Russia has gone further even than Kazakhstan, the country that bears the brunt of Baron Cohen’s mock documentary.
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