Borat is being sued. Sasha Cohen and 20th Century Fox are being sued by the people who appeared in the film. Some people think of these lawsuits as frivolous. Herein are some of the lawsuits launched against the makers of the Borat film.
While you may not have seen the film Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, you’re sure to hear all about it by watching the news or reading the local paper. The star of the film, Sasha Baron Sasha Cohen, and the producers for 20th Century Fox intended the film to be a satirical take on American culture to expose racism and bigotry. The film was shot documentary style with Sasha Cohen playing the role of a Kazakh journalist. Unfortunately for those involved with the making of this film, not everyone saw the humor behind the film’s concept.
Romanian Town, Glod vs Sasha Cohen (Borat)
Since the making of Borat there have been several lawsuits filed against Sasha Cohen and the parent production company 20th Century Fox. One of the largest lawsuits is being filed by attorneys representing the villagers of Glod, the tiny Romanian town used as the backdrop for Borat’s hometown of Kazakhstan. This lawsuit specifically names Nicolae Todorache and Spiridom Ciorebea as plaintiffs who feel they were misled about the intentions of Sasha Cohen’s film.
Todorache and Ciorebea claim they were informed the film would be a documentary detailing the extreme poverty in Romania, and the rich heritage and belief system upheld by the inhabitants. The villagers feel they were specifically targeted and portrayed in a negative manner, although Cohen and producers vehemently deny these accusations. According to Fox representatives the natives were paid above average wages and were never made to believe that this film was a true documentary.
Kazakh’s Foreign Ministry Lawsuits vs Sasha Cohen
Adding to the list of people looking for justice are the citizens of the real-life Kazakhstan. Until the release of Borat this was a relatively unknown country, but it’s portrayal in this controversial film has brought threats of a lawsuit from the Kazakh foreign ministry.
The lawsuit involving villagers from Glod was filed in Manhatten, but was quickly dismissed in late 2006 by US District Judge, Loretta A. Preska. The attorneys for the plaintiffs were warned that unless they could provide specific claims/evidence that the villagers were misled by Sasha Cohen and 20th Century Fox, the case did not have enough legal merit to be heard by the court.
South Carolina Fraternity Boys Suing Cohen Borat
The villagers of Glod and Kazakhstan weren’t the only groups upset by their portrayal in Borat. In fact, several lawsuits were filed here in the United States by citizens unhappy with the film’s final result. Two South Carolina Fraternity boys tried to sue Cohen and Fox for the way they were portrayed in the film.
The scenes in question show the two boys, obviously intoxicated, making obscene racist and sexist remarks. The boys claim that the film crew told them this documentary would not be shown in the United States, and that the film crew is responsible for taking them out to a local bar to get drunk prior to shooting.
The representatives for 20th Century Fox claim that the boys knowingly signed a release to hold the company harmless and the behavior of the two boys was not the result of anything said or done by members of the film crew. After hearing both sides of the testimony a Los Angeles Superior Court Judge ruled that he would not halt the release of Borat to DVD, nor would he require Fox producers to remove scenes involving the two Fraternity boys.
Etiquette Coaches in Borat Film Launch Lawsuit
Other individuals threatening lawsuits against Sasha Cohen and 20th Century Fox include two etiquette coaches, Cindy Streit and Kathie Martin, from Alabama. Both women are depicted in the film giving etiquette lessons to Cohen’s character during a dinner party. The dispute here is that both women were offended by the comments made by Borat regarding slavery, a demeaning comment made against one of the dinner party guests, and the bag of excrement handed to Streit.
The women claim that this film has single-handedly ruined their etiquette businesses and, as with the Fraternity boys, demanded their likenesses be removed from the film prior to its release. As with the Fraternity boy case, it was decided that the film would be released to DVD as scheduled and that 20th Century Fox was under no obligation to remove the women’s images from the film. Both women signed a release for the company in which they agreed not to file damage claims against the producers. From a lawyer’s standpoint, the parties involved should have read the agreements more carefully.
Overall, the lawsuits filed against Sasha Baron Sasha Cohen and 20th Century Fox for the film Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan are frivolous at best. Each of the plaintiffs signed a waiver to hold the producers harmless, and the villagers of Glod and Kazakhstan have yet to make a specific claim of damages in their lawsuit. In all cases, US District Judges ruled that no legal harm was done and permitted the release of the Borat DVD without any alterations to the original film version.