Holocaust survivor Judith Dim Evans’ estate is suing Borat 2 producers and Amazon, claiming Sacha Baron Cohen interviewed her under false pretenses.
Holocaust survivor Judith Dim Evans’ estate is suing the producers of Borat 2 and Amazon Studios over claims that the movie uses her likeness without permission and that Sacha Baron Cohen interviewed Evans under false pretenses. The sequel, fully titled Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, is a follow-up to Baron Cohen’s 2006 satire in which the comedian interacts with real people in character as Borat, a Kazakh journalist with no filter.
Borat is outlandishly offensive for comedic effect and often makes insensitive comments about women and different ethnic groups. He’s also anti-Semitic: his (fictional) producer Azamat believes Jewish people were responsible for the 9/11 attacks, the two men are shocked when they stay at a bed and breakfast with Jewish hosts, and they believe in using torture to convert Jews to Christianity. (Baron Cohen is Jewish in real life.) The joke is as much on Borat as it is on any of his interview subjects, with Borat portrayed as unwitting and buffoonish for his failure to read the room. If the movie makes fun of its real participants, it’s because they take the bait when Baron Cohen sets them up. Still, some of the mockumentary’s interviewees sued Baron Cohen after it was released.
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Over a decade later, Borat is getting sued again, this time before his moviefilm even had a chance to make benefit once glorious nation of Kazakhstan. The Wrap reports that Evans’ estate filed a complaint against Oak Street Productions and Amazon Studios for the Holocaust survivor’s involvement in the sequel. The estate attorneys claim Evans didn’t know her interview with Baron Cohen would be used for comedic purposes, specifically a Borat sequel, when she agreed to it. The lawsuit also claims Borat 2 features Evans without authorization. A temporary restraining order against Amazon has been filed that will legally force the movie to delay its scheduled October 23rd premiere. Amazon did not provide comment.
The suit arrives despite reports that Evans was informed of the purpose of the interview: Baron Cohen supposedly breaks the third wall in the scene to explain his character to Evans, a first for the comedian. The segment involves Baron Cohen interviewing the professor and her friend as the anti-Semitic Borat in order to shame Holocaust deniers. A source close to the film told Deadline that there is footage of Baron Cohen disclosing his identity to Evans, which may or may not be in the movie. Estate lawyer Adam L. Hoipkemier says he hasn’t seen the footage. The lawsuit says producers offered to compensate the interviewees, but they declined.
If claims regarding Baron Cohen’s intentions for the scene are true, the lawsuit may be an unfortunate misunderstanding and an ironic one at that. Evans passed away after the movie wrapped filming this year and cannot confirm whether the scene was filmed in good faith. However, the lawsuit says that Evans was “horrified and upset” to learn that the interview was “intended to mock the Holocaust and Jewish culture.” According to producers, the segment was not only included for the purpose of Holocaust remembrance, but the movie is also dedicated to the late Evans. Reports say producers helped Evans with her website, and Amazon includes bonus content about her story with Borat 2. Baron Cohen’s involvement with the Anti-Defamation League and public statements about the issue of Holocaust denial certainly lend credibility to claims that the interview was conducted for the express purpose of awareness (plus laughs, presumably).
Next: Borat 2 Spoilers Were Reported In February (But Nobody Realized)
Sources: The Wrap, Deadline
Key Release Dates
- Borat Subsequent MovieFilm (2020)Release date: Oct 23, 2020
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