TIFF 2006: The Borat Extravaganza
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TIFF 2006: The Borat Extravaganza


Photo courtesy of John Shearer/WireImage for Toronto International Film Festival

Two Torontoist contributors, Rob Shostak and Mathew Kumar, covered last night’s absolutely ridiculous evening at the Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan screening. Borat arrived to much fanfare on top of a wagon pulled by sluggish and reluctant ‘Kazakhstani’ women. And that was only the beginning.
Shostak was inside the theatre, and has all the juicy details (Technical Difficulties! Michael Moore! Impromptu Q & A sessions! Kazakhstan!), plus exclusive photos and exclusive videos of the craziness, while Kumar did some digging and found out more details from the TIFF crew, and some more stories from the audience. Read on for the story.
Updated – 09/10 @ 7:30 PM: We’ve got the video of the whole exchange/interview with Borat, Michael Moore, and Larry Charles back up!

Flashbulbs cracked – fans were near a liquid explosion as Kazakhstan dignitary Borat Sagdiyev made his way to the TIFF for his film debut. Entering on a large black horse, surrounded by a harem of beautiful Kazakhstani women, Borat crossed the red carpet for one of the most anticipated films of the festival. Hundreds of ticket holders waited in a line spanning the length of Gerrard, cornering Church and Mutual street, while even more rush hopefuls waited in vain, but left with a glimpse of Sagdiyev. With so much fanfare surrounding such a humble man, this was sure to be an unforgettable TIFF experience.
The film begins with a tour of Borat’s hometown. We meet his sister, mother, wife, and other colourful townspeople. It’s obvious that Borat is the gem of the town, but still just one of the people of Kazakhstan. He is sent, however, on a mission to the US and A to investigate the American culture in order to usher Kazakhstan a few steps closer to modernity.
His first stop: New York City. As anyone Coming to America, his first stop is the subway as he greets hardcore New Yorkers in the only way he knows… After a brief stop at his hotel, it’s off to his first lesson on comedy. Mother-in-law jokes, sister jokes, jokes that make your jaw drop in horror. But it was when we got to the “Not” jokes that the … the… the… the… the… jokes.. jokes… not… Borat…. jokes… jokes…
Technical difficulties.

The film reel misaligns. The sounds squeak and repeat. Cut to a white screen.
At the Toronto International Film Festival Premier of Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, the projector breaks… what to do in a situation like this? Of all the scenarios that they planned and trained for (including snakes in a theatre), this wasn’t one of them.
But an unlikely superhero swoops in to fix this film catastrophe: Michael Moore… Yes… that Michael Moore.
Exclusive Torontoist Video!

After half an hour of tinkering with the machinery, Moore and the Amish-looking film’s director Larry Charles (“Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Seinfeld” – though not to be confused with Larry David) climb on stage to do some damage control and some stalling as a plan in devised. Moore tells the audience that someone is on their way to the Elgin to steal a part fro their projector, adding that since people don’t lock their doors here, it’ll be easy. They offer answers to ‘any question the audience my have.’ Hard-hitting questions about Cheers and Borat’s body hair are addressed. Michael Moore promises a visit to someone’s school to explain to the principal why he was tardy (it was, after all, a midnight screening). Then Borat comes out to field some questions for a few moments, about Kazakhstan and his love for Canada.
But all this is not enough, as this screening was soon after officially cancelled, rescheduled for a Friday night Midnight Madness. Hordes of fans leave disappointed, but definitely eager to see the rest of the film. And for all those in the rush line, there is hope, as the blocks of tickets may be opened for the new venue. But overall, if the first 15 minutes were any indication, Borat’s got some Kazakhstan Gold on his hands. For the rest of us, we have to settle for some TIFF hand relief before we can have some sexy time with Borat tonight.
The Interview (in four, YouTube-y stages)

Exclusive Torontoist photos of Michael Moore fixing the projector:

Right Wing Conspiracy?

It’s hot in here… what is it.. Fahrenheit 911?

Where are the WMDs?

Should we cut and run?

– Rob Shostak

Last night, as Robonto revealed above, the screening of Borat was cut short due to projector malfunction, but the crowd was entertained with everyone from Michael Moore and Larry Charles to Borat himself. Torontoist was lucky enough to get the opinion of another audience member, Scott Campbell, to give us another take, and we’ve got the exact details from TIFFG as to the situation with the replacement screening.
Torontoist: So tell us, what exactly happened last night?
Scott: Well, it was about 15 minutes into the film, and the screen went blank. The audience were pretty puzzled, and initially I thought it was all part of the show. It had all very clearly been a show up until that point, Borat showing up with a donkey in a cart being pulled by women. It was all spectacle that night.
The staff came out and let us know they were experiencing difficulties, and to please bear with them – throughout the whole thing the staff were really good at keeping us informed.
And for a midnight crowd, they were pretty cool about the whole thing. I mean, all of a sudden a guy in front of us was doing mentalist tricks to try and entertain the crowd. But suddenly Michael Moore and Larry Charles decided to get up and perform an impromptu Q&A about anything, and it was hilarious, they were going completely out of their way to keep the audience entertained.
T: So what were people asking?
S: Everything from “Will you sign me a late note for school?” to which Larry Charles was like “sure come on up, bring a piece of paper.” Larry Charles was totally on. It was part comedy show, part Q&A. Michael Moore of course weighing in on all things Canadian. After a while of that Borat himself came out to regale the crowd with his hilarity…[at this point Scott breaks down with laughter, reminiscing] He threatened to spank [Midnight Madness programmer] Colin Geddes right there, and he promised that if everyone doesn’t get into the next Borat screening he’d crush his head. His last words were “I blame this on the Jews.”
It was brilliant. Personally I felt, I could go see the movie any time, but that was a once in a life time experience. When I got out of the theatre, I looked up and I saw the full moon, and I realised that a little lunar “midnight madness” had hit. That’s really what it felt like – that everyone was part of something special.
– Mathew Kumar

The replacement screening of Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan is midnight, tonight, at the Visa Screening Room (Elgin). Audience members who were at last night’s screening should have held on to their ticket stubs and will be able to get in to tonight’s screening without problems, if however you are unable to make it, you can call the TIFF Box office for more information, or to arrange a refund.
Also, as the Elgin holds a few hundred more than the Ryerson, tickets are soon to be available with same day ticket sales rules (Same-day tickets are sold through the main box office, at the theatre box offices, and also available online and by phone). So if you want to make the most of this new opportunity to see it, you should be able to get a ticket as soon as possible, though if you miss out, the rush queue should be a good bet too.