November 5, 2020
Marietta’s Temple Kol Emeth got a lot more than it bargained for when it innocently signed an agreement in January to rent out its sanctuary to a motion picture production company and pocketed the $500 rental fee. Little did they know their synagogue would be playing a featured role in the new “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” released on Amazon Prime Oct. 22.
In the film, which lingers on a few moments on the synagogue’s sign in front, Sacha Baron Cohen, disguised as a devilish anti-Semitic Jewish stereotype with a giant nose, confronts a kindly and wise Holocaust survivor, 87-year-old Judith Dim Evans of Aiken, S.C.
She assures the surprised Borat that the anti-Jewish atrocities of World War II actually happened and that they were a part of her life. Eventually they sit down to a meal together in one of the Temple’s pews and he eventually says goodbye with a sweet kiss on the cheek.
It’s one of the few, truly moving scenes in the over-the-top comedy that included an embarrassing sequence with President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. One critic writing in The Atlantic magazine called it “less of a satire and more of a straight-up expose.”
But the resulting publicity made it one of the most popular new releases of the year.
Amazon, which doesn’t disclose viewing numbers, said “tens of millions” watched the film all over the world on its opening weekend.
Other sources claimed that it surpassed the Disney premiere of the new “Mulan” blockbuster earlier this year. Audiences and critics generally gave the Borat movie a thumbs up, but the Evans’ family tried in Fulton Superior Court, without success, to get her scene cut from the film.
The Marietta synagogue was also caught off guard and was not told by the producers of the true nature of the film. Still, Rabbi Larry Sernovitz, who became spiritual leader of Kol Emeth after the incident took place, said that Evans’ words needed to be heard.
“Whether it was done in our synagogue or any other synagogue, I believe that that the Holocaust survivor who was in that movie spoke eloquently. I believe that her words should be all of our words.”
Sacha Baron Cohen, in the closing credits, dedicated his motion picture to Evans’ memory.