Carmen Meets Borat

Carmen Meets Borat

Carmen is 17 years old and already considered a spinster in her small village of Glod, Romania. It’s not for a lack of prospects because the boy next door is in love with her and Carmen’s father would like nothing more than a prompt wedding; but she has big dreams of escaping her pedestrian life, […]


Carmen is 17 years old and already considered a spinster in her small village of Glod, Romania. It’s not for a lack of prospects because the boy next door is in love with her and Carmen’s father would like nothing more than a prompt wedding; but she has big dreams of escaping her pedestrian life, trading it for an exotic existence in Spain. Then Borat came to her little community.

Carmen does her laundry in a river and bathes with water she must carry from a well. She spends her time working in her father’s general store, waiting on layabouts in her father’s bar, watching Spanish soap operas, and planning a life far, far away. While Mercedes Stalenhoef’s documentary crew took a break, Sacha Baron Cohen swung in with his film crew to shoot the opening scenes of Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. Thinking they were being captured for another documentary, upstanding citizens like Carmen’s grandfather smiled for the cameras. When they saw themselves portrayed as Kazakhstani whores, thieves, and abortionists, the village is horrified. Seeing an opportunity, big city lawyers fly in channelling the villagers’ outrage into a $30 million lawsuit. Fantastical plans for the money are made immediately but incompetent legal representation leads to a weak complaint and embarrassment.

The shift in attitudes and mood after the Borat visit is substantial. We watch as villagers take out their frustrations on Stalenhoef’s crew. Greed, distrust, jealousy, anger or all of the above lead Carmen’s neighbours to turn against her family. In the meantime, Carmen must deal with personal dramas that threaten her relationship with her father. As Carmen’s life gradually improves, the documentary’s focus becomes her father’s loss of hope for an improved standard of living in the village. There appears to be a lot of drama for one family in such a small community but it makes for a rollercoaster of a documentary (with modest hills rather than giant loops).

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