Borat: Coming Soon to a Courtroom Near You

borat-flag.jpg“Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” opening has been a wild success, and the movie remains #1 in America for a second week.

But as Steve Garfield reports, not all of the film’s extras signed on with an understanding of the film’s comedic nature.

  1. Star and screenplay author Sacha Baron Cohen is being sued by college students who claim that filmmakers “took the students to a bar to drink and “loosen up” before participating in what they were told would be a documentary to be shown outside of the United States.”    
  2. Late 90’s Internet celebrity Mahir Cagri told Wired he plans to sue for infringment on his character.
  3. In a disturbing report, “This is London” decribes reactions by the villagers of Glod, Romania (which was depicted as Borat’s hometown of Kazakhstan). The villagers are pursuing legal action and excusing the comedian of exploiting them, after discovering his “blockbuster film portrays them as a backward group of rapists, abortionists and prostitutes, who happily engage in casual incest.”

borat.jpgThey claim film-makers lied to them about the true nature of the project, which they believed would be a documentary about their hardship, rather than a comedy mocking their poverty and isolation. Villagers say they were paid just £3 each for this humiliation, for a film that took around £27million at the worldwide box office in its first week of release.

While the rest of the crew based themselves in the motel, Baron Cohen stayed in a hotel in Sinaia, a nearby ski resort a world away from Glod’s grinding poverty…. Mr Tudorache, a deeply religious grandfather who lost his arm in an accident, was one of those who feels most humiliated. For one scene, a rubber sex toy in the shape of a fist was attached to the stump of his missing arm – but he had no idea what it was.

So what’s the lesson? Signed release forms. Even for viral flicks.

6 Replies to “Borat: Coming Soon to a Courtroom Near You”

  1. Talent Release forms are very important regardless of what it is you’re producing. Many people incorrectly assume they’re covered under “fair use.”

    A quick google search for talent release forms reveals a ton of formats:

    I like this one because it addresses compensation AND addresses promotional/advertising use of the image. If you want to compensate the talent, you can easily add a line for Compensation $___ and change the line to read, “I have received the compensation noted below and acknowledge that this is all of the compensation I will receive for my participation.”

  2. I’ve featured the same tollbooth guy in about three of my videos. The problem is that I’m usually driving too fast to get him to sign a release form.

  3. Actually, those people did sign release forms. They were just lied to before signing them. For example, in the hotel scene where Borat walks in and calls the guy “Vanilla Face,” the producers told him they were filming for a documentary about hotels around the world. They were actually filming the hotel guy talking about different pieces of artwork in the hotel, and the Borat walks in. The hotel guy was surprised, and the cameramen and producers knew, but they also acted surprised. Since the hotel guy signed a pretty vague release form beforehand, they used the footage.

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