“Nomad vs. Borat”: The Next Big Battle?
While it is still in the background of President Nazarbayev’s visit, another battle over the image of Kazakhstan is about to emerge. As with all great image battles, this one will be completely fought on the terrain of celluloid and in the halls of America’s greatest image makers—Hollywood. It was not surprising that a state like Kazakhstan, even with the help of DC beltway spin doctors, would have difficulty deflecting the power of the PR behind Sacha Cohen’s “Borat” film. Kazakhstan, however, may have already thought about that. Several years ago, the Kazakhstan government had commissioned world famous filmmaker Milos Forman to produce an epic film entitled “Nomad” about the birth of the Kazakh nation and its 18th century defeat of the Zhungars. The film, which reportedly cost an estimated 40 million dollars, has undergone a weary history as its funding fluctuated, its directors and staff changed, and its initial version was brought back for editing after its first premier in Kazakhstan last year. Such production snags, of course, can be expected when a state bureaucracy is its major financial source. Now, its final version has been released, and, as the trailer below shows, it looks to be an epic historical battle film to challenge the likes of Braveheart.
Featuring an international cast, picturesque scenery, exotic costumes, and action-packed battle scenes, the film has already been well received at several festivals. After its September 7, 2006 release in Moscow, the film also enjoyed positive critical reviews in Russia’s media, and the challenge the film may pose to “Borat” was not missed by reviewers. Its U.S. distributor will be the Weinstein Co. of former Miramax fame, but the company’s website doesn’t list it to be released in the U.S. in the near future. The only reference I saw for a release date in the U.S. was in 2007, but if the Weinstein Co. is savvy enough, they could choose to release it in November so it can meet head to head with "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan." Miramax has, of course, upstaged big studio blockbusters before….you never know. Nobody ever thought Astana would actually be built either.