"Land of Borat" Kazakhstan shines in Oscar limelight

Thu Jan 24, 2008 5:46am EST
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By Maria Golovnina

ALMATY (Reuters) - A Kazakh-financed film has been nominated for best foreign film at this year's Oscars, a welcome creative boost to this central Asian country that was so heavily lampooned by the hit "Borat" movie.

"This nomination is a message to Kazakhstan's business and government: Guys, you can export not just oil, gas and grain but also highly creative products," said Bolat Galimgereyev, one of the film's main producers and sponsors.

"Mongol," Kazakhstan's first-ever Oscar nod comes after British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen poked fun at the country in the highly successful 2006 movie, "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan."

"Mongol," submitted by Kazakhstan in the Foreign Language Film category for the 80th Academy Awards, was made by a Russian director and stars Japanese, Mongol and Chinese actors.

The 15 million euro ($21.93 million) film was financed by private Kazakh investors and partly filmed in the steppes and mountains of Kazakhstan, a country the size of Western Europe populated by the descendants of nomadic tribes.

"We are really proud of our film and our country," Gulnara Sarsenova, another producer and sponsor, said in the Kazakh financial capital Almaty.

"It was a joint project but we also put a lot of effort into it, a lot of soul, a lot of time."

The Borat film, which portrayed Kazakhstan as a nation of horse urine-drinking racists, was nominated for best screenplay at 2007 Oscars but didn't win.   Continued...

<p>Sarsenova Gulnara (L) and Galimgereyev Bolat, producers of Kazakhstan's film "Mongol", which is nominated for the Oscar foreign-language prize, attend a news conference in Almaty January 24, 2008. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov</p>