Tajikistan has decided not to screen Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest offering, The Dictator, after authorities ruled that the movie was incompatible with the nation’s “mentality”.
The Dictator, which features Sacha Baron Cohen as General Aladeen, depicts a fictional Middle Eastern dictator risking his life to crush signs of democracy, has been refused a distribution license.
“It’s wrong to compare us with Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and with other countries,” said Daler Davlatov of the Tatan distribution company in Tajikistan.
“It’s incorrect because we have a different mentality. We’re not going to give Dictator a premiere because of these considerations,” he told the Kyrgyz news website kloop.kg.
Tajikistan’s distributor of international movies, Tantana, said it would instead encourage people to watch Will Smith’s Men in Black 3, the Central Asian News Service reported yesterday.
Sacha Baron Cohen has already denied the role was an attack on Arabs and said the only people who would be offended by it would be “dictators and fans of dictatorship”.
It’s not the first time Sacha Baron Cohen has had his work censored – in 2006 Russia banned his hit comedy film, Borat, which had been accused of poking fun at Moscow’s neighbor and close ally Kazakhstan.
Tajikistan is an ex-Soviet state ruled by President Emomalii Rahmon since 1992.
A rugged, mountainous country, Tajikistan is Central Asia’s poorest nation.
One Tajik political scientist, Muso Asozoda, forecast the ban would be similarly counterproductive as the Borat ban.
The fact that two cinema’s in Dushanbe , the capital and largest city of Tajikistan, were not screening the film would add viewer interest, he told the Guardian newspaper.
This week Sacha Baron Cohen claimed he was banned from shooting scenes for his new film The Dictator at the United Nations because it might upset real-life despots.
He said: “The interesting thing is, when we asked to shoot inside the United Nations, they actually refused.
“We said <<this is a pro-democracy movie>>. They said <<that’s the problem – we represent a lot of dictators, and they are going to be very angry by this portrayal of them so you can’t shoot in there>>.”
This week Sacha Baron Cohen, 40, continued his array of stunts to promote the film by arriving at the 65th Cannes Film Festival in a bright orange Lamborghini.
The actor was in full character as General Aladeen and was once again surrounded by an array of beautiful women who were dressed as his bodyguards.
Wearing a blue denim-looking jumpsuit that was covered in badges and images of the character, Sacha Baron Cohen kept a cigar hanging from his mouth at all times and played up to the camera as he kept a close eye on his female friends – in particular model Sasha Volkova who wore a black dress.
He completed his look with a pair of snakeskin boots and some blue-tinted sunglasses as he strolled around outside the French venue.
Sacha Baron Cohen then made his way over to another lady and enjoyed a quick kiss as he filmed a slot for the Le Grand Journal TV show.