Years after condemning Borat for its depictions of Kazakhstan, the country is singing a different tune.

By Nick Romano
October 26, 2020 at 01:48 PM EDT
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There was a time when the government of Kazakhstan banned the movie Borat and threatened to sue its star Sacha Baron Cohen for his depictions of the country in the outrageous mockumentary. Those days are over.

Following the release of Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, the sequel to Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, the Kazakh tourism board had officially adopted the character's "very nice!" catchphrase as its slogan.

A series of new ads released on Sunday features visitors experiencing different aspects of the country — from architecture and landscapes to food and culture — before repeating those two famous words. A description of the promos on YouTube reads, "How can you describe a place this surprising in just two words? As a wise man once said, 'Very nice!'"

According to The New York Times, the idea to embrace the slogan came from Dennis Keen, a former Los Angeles resident who now lives in Kazakhstan with a travel show airing on a state TV channel, and Yermek Utemissov, who helps foreign film companies shoot projects in the country.

Kairat Sadvakassov, deputy chairman of the Kazakhstan tourism board, told the Times, “In COVID times, when tourism spending is on hold, it was good to see the country mentioned in the media. Not in the nicest way, but it’s good to be out there. We would love to work with Cohen, or maybe even have him film here.”

In light of this new development, Cohen said in a statement, "This is a comedy, and the Kazakhstan in the film has nothing to do with the real country. I chose Kazakhstan because it was a place that almost nobody in the U.S. knew anything about, which allowed us to create a wild, comedic, fake world. The real Kazakhstan is a beautiful country with a modern, proud society — the opposite of Borat’s version."

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