Sacha Baron Cohen, the Jewish comedian whose sequel to his 2006 “Borat” film is scheduled to be released next week, has been sued by the estate of a recently deceased American Holocaust survivor interviewed for the movie, which claims the inclusion of the interview mocks the Nazi genocide and Jewish culture.
The estate of Judith Dim Evans, which filed the lawsuit this week at the Superior Court of Fulton in the US state of Georgia, is demanding that the interview be cut from the film as well as damages of less than $75,000, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Wednesday.
The report said Evans was approached to talk about the Holocaust and had believed she was taking part in a serious documentary.
The lawsuit also names Amazon Prime, the distributor of the film, and production company Oak Springs Productions as defendants. Filed by Evans’s daughter Michelle Dim St. Pierre, the executor of her estate, it alleged false light invasion of privacy, appropriation of Evans’s likeness for commercial gain, and fraud.
The interview took place this year on January 29 in a synagogue in Dunwoody. The lawsuit alleges that it was held “under false pretenses with the intent of appropriating her likeness. Ms. Evans did not consent to the commercial use of her likeness in ‘Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm,’ or in a comedy ‘mockumentary.'”
“Upon learning after giving the interview that the movie was actually a comedy intended to mock the Holocaust and Jewish culture, Ms. Evans was horrified and upset,” the lawsuit said, according to the report.
“Had Ms. Evans been informed about the true nature of the film and purpose for the interview, she would not have agreed to participate in the interview,” it said.
The lawsuit reportedly said producers attempted to pay Evans for the interview, but she refused.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether Evans had signed paperwork authorizing the producers to use the material any way they want. An attorney for the Evans estate declined to answer a question on the matter by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Evans, who lived in Aiken, South Carolina, died over the summer.
Borat is an abrasive character starring in Baron Cohen’s 2006 hit film by the same name. A trailer dropped earlier this month for the sequel, set to be released October 23, shortly before the November 3 US election.
Since the character is now recognizable to much of the public, he is featured in the trailer wearing elaborate disguises, as well as acting as the original character.
He is seen shopping for a Halloween costume, being pulled over by police for having a woman strapped to the roof of his car, quarantining in a cabin during the pandemic, and approaching US Vice President Mike Pence at a speaking engagement while dressed as US President Donald Trump.
The film will reportedly focus on the COVID-19 pandemic and Trump and his supporters, among other topics.
Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani said he reported Baron Cohen to police in July after he entered his office for an interview wearing a bikini.
The official title of the movie is, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.”
The original film was titled, “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit of Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.” It featured Baron Cohen, who is Jewish, as a nonsensical reporter from Kazakhstan who is anti-Semitic, misogynist, and generally offensive, while interacting with Americans who were unaware the character was a sham.
It was particularly noted for helping expose racism and prejudices among interviewees, who let their guard down while speaking to the supposed Kazakh.
In 2007 Baron Cohen had said he would retire Borat, citing the character’s widespread recognition.
“The problem with success, although it’s fantastic, is that every new person who sees the Borat movie is one less person I `get’ with Borat again,” he said at the time.