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More Borat (and, oh yea, films)

Sacha Baron Cohen’s Antics Revealed; Three Films from Day
One

On day one of SBIFF ‘007, the intrepid or hopeless event hopper
could have taken in excellent film experiences from Croatia
(Grbavica), Russia (The Italian), and even Iraq
(Ahlaam), all highly recommended viewing, and also
Kazakhstan… not. Sacha%20Baron%20Cohen%201.jpg Yes, this was the day Borat graced our
fair city, in the form of Sacha Baron
Cohen
(pictured by Paul Wellman), appearing as SBC,
in five-o’clock shadow and a baseball cap
festooned with a
bear. Cohen and his smash hit film descended on the Lobero, with a
screening and a strange, strained conversation with the man/men of
the hour in Hollywood.

There were three other guys from the movie onstage — the
producer and two writers — but frankly, nobody cared about them.
Such is the power of a new superstar on the comedic landscape: when
he appears, we hang on his every word (of which the mum, and
sometimes glum Cohen was reluctant to give much) and await the
comic sexy time (which he delivered a bit of,
heeding the wisdom of aiming at genitalia, at one
point offering a female audience member the chance to confirm that
his package was in order).

Pity interviewer Leonard
Maltin
, who did his level best as straight man/fall guy
interviewer on a crooked playing field. But he acquitted himself
nicely and even personally registered on the laff Richter
scale
. Asked if he was innately fearless, Cohen hemmed,
hawed, and finally admitted “at the end of the day, I want to make
the funniest film possible. Sacrifices have to be made. I was ready
to have a man sit on my face.” He also admitted that “Peter Sellers
was always my hero. You believed Clousseau really existed.”
Ditto Borat. During the audience Q&A segment,
Bunny
Bernhardt
, bless her heart, appeared as a faux Kazakh woman and
gave Cohen a bouquet. “I thought she was going to shoot me,” he
said after, then asked the next man at the microphone “you have no
flowers for me?” At some point, the taciturn Cohen had had enough:
“this is the revenge of the American people, isn’t it?”

And the Movies?

From the film front (oh yeah, that), Grbavica is
a powerful slice-of-life from post-war Bosnia, in the
not-so-peaceful aftermath of the conflicts there. grb%20film.jpg The film, which shows again Sunday,
January 28, at the Metro 4, plays like a sober but ultimately
hopeful sequel to another, much more harrowing film seen at SBIFF
many years ago, Vukovar.

The
Italian
is the sweetest and most filmic orphan tearjerker
you’re likely to find at the moment. (It plays again Tuesday,
January 30, 7:30 p.m. at the Lobero and Wednesday, January 31, 4
p.m., at the Metro 4.)

And, quite seriously, writer-director
Mohamed Al-Daradji
’s brave film Ahlaam, shot
guerilla-style in wartorn Baghdad, confirms a core value of this
and other film festivals: they connect us with the living,
breathing world far outside Hollywood’s petty
interest
, tapping the contemporary world’s woes and joys
in ways mass corporate media has grown increasingly inept at.

ahlaam.jpg

After the screening, Al-Daradhi spoke with the audience and
explained his rationale for making the film, offering that “the
process for me was to say `who are you and what are you doing?’”
That’s a stirring manifesto, especially under the
circumstances, still raging.

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