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Scotsman: Russia fails to see the funny side of Borat as ban looms

SACHA Baron Cohen's controversial new comedy film may be banned in Russia after a government agency said it would refuse to grant permission for screening.

The Federal Agency for Culture and Cinematography said Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan could offend some viewers and contained material that "might seem disparaging in relation to certain ethnic groups and religions", according to Vadim Ivanov, theatrical sales director at the distributor, 20th Century Fox.

Mr Ivanov said he hoped the agency would relent and that the film, a big hit in Britain and the United States, will premiere in Russia as scheduled on 30 November.

The agency informed the distributor in a letter that it would not grant the permission required to show the film, but later said the decision was not official, Mr Ivanov noted. "This story is not over," he added.

Mr Ivanov said he was unaware of Russian authorities having ever banned a non-pornographic film.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Thu Nov 9th, 2006 at 11:05:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I fail to see the funny side of Borat, but a ban?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 06:34:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's a ban for theater runs, DVDs should be available.

Unfortunately, Russia decided to copy European laws limiting freedom of speech in cases of real or perceived extremism and racial hatred. Personally, I think that US gets the issue right with rather a high standard in such cases. Russia is choosing very restrictive European interpretation and there is little experience with interpretation which leads to cases when say an editor was fined for publication of Danish cartoons (later overturned in higher court).

Specifically, my understanding is reasoning here is that Khazakhstan is a neighbor and Khazakhs are living in Russia and film can be seen as disparaging to Khazakhs, so it is seen appropriate to have DVD-only distribution.

by blackhawk on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 07:17:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...what would happen if Borat was from Georgia?
by Nomad on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 07:58:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]

I would guess it would be the same. Why should it be different?

BTW, it's not official ban, just licensing agency opined that given current laws unlikely the application for theater run will be approved, and distributor chose not to  apply (possibly going to courts in case of denial) and go for DVD distribution.

by blackhawk on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 08:14:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because I'm curious about the opinion of someone with more inside info on the internal working within Russia what is left of the story of the ethnic Georgians people within Russia. When the story broke 1 month ago about them being removed from Russia, it was all press flurry. But the Human Rights Council recently criticised the development, and I've heard naught.

Any comments?

by Nomad on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 08:54:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Estimates are there are about 1 million Georgians in Russia, and in 1 month 800 were deported, so results are meager. At the same time, clearly something is wrong when when on top level they talk about crackdown on certain types of crimes, on low level police starts checking all people having Georgian last names. Last I heard police had been asked to stop this practice.

Actually, immigration and ethnic organized crime is the problem (that's how campaign was framed), but I don't see how it can be solved by short-term campaigns.

On immigration, Russia is #2 destination in the world behind the US. Current estimates is that there are about 10 million illegal immigrants in Russia and immigration system is out of whack. For one thing, there are no educational or property requirements for citizenship, for another, decision process is delegated to the police station level and extremely prone to corruption. So realistically, for the organized crime group it's easy to legalize it's member, but for a refugee from, say, Central Asia the process can take years and there were reports when people become illegal again on passport renewals.

by blackhawk on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 07:44:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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