Kazakhstanis Rejoice: 'Borat' Premieres in Toronto


Sacha Baron Cohen's brilliantly titled comedy "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" will have its world premiere as part of the Midnight Madness slate at the Toronto International Film Festival.

The film, directed by Larry Charles, features Baron Cohen as Borat Sagdiyev, intrepid and clueless Kazakhstani journalist. The film is based on a character from the comic's "Da Ali G Show" and has already stirred up some controversy from advocates who claim cultural insensitivity.

The Midnight Madness program is in its 19th year and "showcases the best in off-kilter genre flicks including sci-fi, horror, outlandish comedy and outrageous documentaries. Stay up past your bedtime and experience new works by electrifying and adventurous filmmakers dealing in the sublimely strange."

That means "Borat," but it also means a bunch of far stranger horror entries including, most intriguingly, Jonathan King's "Black Sheep," a New Zealand gore-fest about a pack of genetically doctored killer sheep, with effects courtesy of the Weta Workshop.

There's star-power behind the camera for "Trapped Ashes," an anthology horror film with segments helmed by Ken Russell ("Tommy"), Monte Hellman ("Two-Lane Blacktop"), Sean Cunningham ("Friday the 13th") and John Gaeta (effects guru on the "Matrix" movies). Joe Dante ("Gremlins") directed the framing sequences.

"Black Sheep" and "Trapped Ashes" are getting their world premieres, as are Jonathan Levine's "All the Boys Love Mandy Lane" and Nacho Cerda's "The Abandoned." Toronto will host North American premieres for Bong Joon-Ho's "The Host," Christopher Smith's "Severance" and Anders Morgenthaler's "Princess." JT Petty's "S&Man" will have its international premiere, with Kim Chapiron's "Sheitan" in its Canadian premiere.

The TIFF runs September 7 to 16, 2006.

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