Update, October 26: Deadline reports the lawsuit filed by the estate for Judith Dim Evans has been dismissed by Georgia courts. Amazon attorney Russell Smith said in a statement: “The lawsuit was dismissed, unconditionally. The lawsuit is over. Sacha Baron Cohen was deeply grateful for the opportunity to work with Judith Dim Evans, whose compassion and courage as a Holocaust survivor has touched the hearts of millions of people who have seen the film. Judith’s life is a powerful rebuke to those who deny the Holocaust, and with this film and his activism, Sacha Baron Cohen will continue his advocacy to combat Holocaust denial around the world.”
Earlier: Sacha Baron Cohen typically films his documentaries in secret, with unsuspecting subjects taking part in his politically charged comedy stunts. The comedian rarely tells his subjects they are being set up in order to capture their genuine reactions to outrageous inquiries and requests. It’s a decision that can have near-violent consequences, as Cohen almost ignited a riot after crashing a far-right rally over the summer while filming “Borat 2.” But even Cohen knows there are limits to who he can dupe for his movies. Deadline reports that Cohen broke with tradition while filming the upcoming “Borat” sequel in order to explain a scene to a Holocaust survivor in which Borat uses anti-Semitic hate speech.
The scene in question features Judith Dim Evans, who passed away between filming the scene and the “Borat 2” release later this month. (The film is reportedly dedicated to her.) Per Deadline: “Out of respect, [Cohen] had someone tell Evans and [her] friend who shares the scene with her that Baron Cohen was himself Jewish and playing an ignorant character as a means of Holocaust education.” The scene features Borat using anti-Semitic language, as Evans challenges the character by sharing her own Holocaust story.
Despite reports that Cohen reportedly had someone tip Evans off about his Jewish identity so that she would understand the intention of the scene, Evans’ estate has filed a lawsuit in Georgia against the “Borat” team claiming she did not know she was appearing in a satire that “mocks the Holocaust and Jewish culture.” According to Deadline’s sources close to the filmmakers, Cohen’s team notified Evans about the real nature of the scene after it was shot. Deadline also reports there is footage of Evans being told the context of the scene, as well as Cohen’s real identity.
The scene is shaping up to be one of the defining moments of “Borat 2” for Cohen. In addition to dedicating the film to Evans, Deadline reports the filmmaking team worked with some members of Evans’ family to set up a website in her honor. Cohen has also reportedly tasked Amazon Prime “to agree to create a way for viewers of the film to hear Evans tell the story of what happened to her family during WWII,” separate from that of the feature.
“Borat 2” begins streaming October 23 on Amazon Prime.