- Notes provided by Paramount Pictures -
SACHA BARON COHEN - Academy Award(R)-nominated and Golden Globe-winning writer/performer and creator of such indelible characters as Ali G, Borat and Brüno - now steps into the autocratic and very shiny shoes of General Admiral Haffaz Aladeen, a dictator who risks his life to ensure that democracy will never come to the country he so lovingly oppresses, in The Dictator.
Oil rich and isolated, the North African state of Wadiya has been ruled by the vehemently anti-West Aladeen since he was six, when he was named Supreme Leader after the unfortunate death of his father, sadly killed in a hunting accident - hit by 97 stray bullets and a hand grenade.
Since his ascension to absolute power, Aladeen's trusted advisor has been his Uncle Tamir (SIR BEN KINGSLEY), who serves as Head of the Secret Police, Chief of Security and Procurer or Women.
Unfortunately for Aladeen and his advisors, the much-despised West has begun to poke its nose into Wadiyan affairs, and the United Nations has repeatedly sanctioned the country over the last decade - the Dictator is not about to let a Security Council inspector into his secret weapons facility...don't they know what ``secret means? But after an assassination attempt takes the life of yet another ringer for the Supreme Leader, Tamir convinces Aladeen to go to New York to address the United Nations' concerns.
And so General Aladeen, Tamir and their entourage arrive in New York to a not-so-warm reception, as the city is rife with exiled Wadiyans, who only wish to see their country freed from Aladeen's despotic rule.
But much more than angry expatriates and unwanted (and unwarranted!) sanctions await Aladeen in the Land of the Free...
Also joining Baron Cohen onscreen are ANNA FARIS as Zoey, the altruistic owner of the Free Earth Collective, a Manhattan health food store run on the honor system; and JASON MANTZOUKAS as Nadal, the brilliant Wadiyan scientist, whose nuclear bomb proves unacceptable and not nearly pointy enough for the Supreme Leader.
Reunited with Baron Cohen are multiple Borat and Brüno collaborators, including director LARRY CHARLES; screenwriter/producers ALEC BERG, DAVID MANDEL and JEFF SCHAFFER; producers TODD SCHULMAN and ANTHONY HINES, who are newly joined by producer SCOTT RUDIN. Also returning are executive producers MARI JO WINKLER-IOFFREDA, PETER BAYNHAM and DAN MAZER, with new executive producer ADAM McKAY.
Rounding out the production are director of photography LAWRENCE SHER, production designer VICTOR KEMPSTER, editors GREG HAYDEN and ERIC KISSACK, costume designer JEFFREY KURLAND and composer ERRAN BARON COHEN.
Paramount Pictures Presents A Four By Two Films / Berg Mandel Schaffer / Scott Rudin Production: Sacha Baron Cohen, Anna Faris and Ben Kingsley in The Dictator. The music is by Erran Baron Cohen. The costume designer is Jeffrey Kurland. It is edited by Greg Hayden and Eric Kissack. The production designer is Victor Kempster; the director of photography is Lawrence Sher. The executive producers are Mari Jo Winkler-Ioffreda, Adam McKay, Peter Baynham and Dan Mazer. The film is produced by Sacha Baron Cohen, Alec Berg, David Mandel, Jeff Schaffer, Todd Schulman, Anthony Hines and Scott Rudin. The Dictator is written by Sacha Baron Cohen & Alec Berg & David Mandel & Jeff Schaffer. It is directed by Larry Charles.
The Dictator has been rated R by the MPAA for strong crude and sexual content, brief male nudity, language and some violent images. www.RepublicOfWadiya.com (C)2012 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.
WELCOME TO WADIYA
The North African nation of Wadiya has the potential to be the next Dubai...if it weren't for the crushing poverty, lack of refinement and the man who rules from his inherited throne-General Haffaz Aladeen.
``He has lost the legitimacy to rule, President Obama of the United States has gone on record as saying. ``He must step down.
On the verge of being officially sanctioned by the United Nations, the General has announced his first trip to the U.S. to address these insults, slanders and charges.
``It is outrageous to call me a dictator. I am the undemocratically elected leader of my people. Actually, my full title is Admiral General Aladeen, Supreme Leader, Chief Ophthalmologist, Invincible, All Triumphant, Beloved Oppressor of the People of Wadiya...and excellent swimmer, including butterfly. I have 118 PhDs, and a diploma in spray tanning from the Qatar Community College.
Award-winning writer/performer/filmmaker Sacha Baron Cohen has made a living out of culture clash. Whether as a British Jamaican-wannabe rapper slash chat show host, a somewhat naïve Kazakhstani television reporter or an out and relatively out there Austrian fashionista, Baron Cohen is in the business of finding humor and revelation in the often uncomfortable collision of vastly differing viewpoints and lifestyles. His stupendously and deservedly popular British television series made its wildfire way to the British movie screen. His subsequent and unstoppable transition to Hollywood was made in a film helmed by director Larry Charles, who again collaborated with Baron Cohen on his follow-up project (and now, once again, with The Dictator).
Larry Charles comments, ``When we did Brüno, we were shocked because we had thought that after Borat, we'd never get away with it again. And then we put Sacha into the Brüno make-up, the hair and the outfits, and we went around Los Angeles with him-we kept thinking that we were going to get busted in two seconds. But generally speaking, nobody recognized him. He looked so different-and there's a fascinating psychological component to all of this. It's like when people are eyewitnesses to crimes, but it turns out that what they saw is not actually what happened. People don't look as closely at things as you might think. And when someone like Brüno is walking around the street, they tend to not look him in the eye; they don't want to look at him too closely. So, we took advantage of that, and insinuated Brüno into all of those situations without ever being discovered.
Co-star Jason Mantzoukas remembers the effect Da Ali G Show had on him and his friends: ``A friend of mine sent me this show from the U.K., and told me that we had to watch it...and we became obsessed with it. It was the idea at the time, which was quite novel and amazing, to be playing a fictional character within real life, in the real world. It was hilarious to us, going after those politicians as Ali G. I thought those were amazing. And then he subsequently followed that up on a continually larger scale. It's really evident that the ethos of Sacha Baron Cohen is unrelenting commitment to a character.
Going in with the character of General Aladeen, however, was to be a different experience, and the 'real' world was to be replaced with a facsimile of a real, scripted world-however, just outside of the borders of this fictitious North African country, a real world waits...
Baron Cohen's prescience with regard to story and character proved preternatural - as work on The Dictator started in earnest months before the first demonstrations in the Middle East began a chain reaction of unrest, and long before the world had ever heard of (or used the phrase) ``Arab Spring.
Larry Charles states, ``This movie really began more than two years ago. The fact that the Arab Spring emerged as we were making the movie did affect us, with regard to locations and shooting schedule. But here we were, developing this project, and then to watch it happening on the news was uncanny.
As usual for Baron Cohen, the character also needed to be grounded in truth. During the early stages of development, General Aladeen (Baron Cohen in full costume) was placed in several interview situations with people unaware of the ruse, and the resulting discussions were recorded. Larry Charles says, ``Again, we were able to get away with it. It gave Sacha a chance to play with the character and interact in a spontaneous, improvised way. But we knew going in that this was to be a scripted film, that it would be 'unrealistic,' as it were, to try and do it the other way-there was too much story, too many other characters, too many others aspects that had to be serviced. Throughout the process, however, we tried to maintain the same edge as in those earlier projects.
The differences in the project intrigued both Baron Cohen and the director. Charles again: ``There are a lot of layers to it. There's a political layer to this movie that talks about the modern, real politics of the world with a very unique point of view. And we're using that to question very basic assumptions about our society-what is democracy? what is a country? When you have large countries being dominated by corporate interests, lobbyists, those kinds of influences, what do the borders of our country mean? Is there an America? or is America just a brand? Is 'democracy' just a word? What does 'dictatorship' ultimately mean? What system is the best for people? and what system ultimately works? There is suffering in all political systems, so we examine how the media covers these stories, these themes and these issues. So we were able to deal with all of these things in an intentional way that gives the movie many layers beyond the story itself, and it delivers as a comedy. We believe it's as funny as the other movies, if not funnier.
``Larry Charles is a guy walking the tightrope, says Academy Award(R)-winning actor Sir Ben Kingsley, ``because any great comedy is all about taste. You have to have men of great taste and intelligence on the set who know exactly how far we can push any given envelope: when to retreat, when to charge forward again. Larry and Sacha are very fine generals.
Among the many charges being leveled at Aladeen are accusations of hostility toward neighboring nations. ``I am not hostile. My country has existed for over seven million years, ever since the dinosaurs were wiped out by the Zionists. And during that whole time, we have never attacked another nation, unless it was an emergency or we were really bored. But who cares about the past? This is about the future, he hisses beneath his Versace sunglasses.
When it came to filling the roles around Aladeen, the mandate was clear, per director Charles: ``One of the things that I talked about a lot when I was making the movie was that the dynamic between Sacha's character and all the other characters was very similar to the way that Borat or Brüno might relate to people. So we needed actors who, on their end of it, were spontaneous and ready to improvise and ad-lib, to be able to go with the flow wherever it went-in order to give that same kind of feeling within this scripted format.
Most actors, when hard pressed, are willing to admit their strengths (or lack of it) in the area of improvisation. And if not, one dip in the pool with another adept at ``thinking on his/her feet is enough to demonstrate their aptitude. Charles' extensive background in that type of comedy (Curb Your Enthusiasm) more than gave him insight into the methodology, and he again collaborated with the same casting team from both Borat and Brüno. They found their choices far from limited. He observes, ``There is a vast talent pool of actors who are incredibly diverse, incredibly eclectic, and also have the ability to be very spontaneous and improvise-some actually thrive in that environment. We all really liked Anna Faris' work, and that's why we wanted her in the movie.
On paper, the part of Zoey is neither glamorous nor overtly comedic. ``Yet we knew, continues the director, ``that we wanted somebody to ground things, and bring comedy as well as truth to her. Anna is a fearless performer. She has an image, and she was willing to completely abandon that image. It was a completely un-vain portrayal and I think it gives the movie a lot of heart and emotion, and she really connects you to what is going on there. She was amazing, actually - almost like the ballast for the movie.
Faris was more than willing to veer from script when the opportunity was presented. She notes, ``We did a ton of improvisation. There was a script, and I would say that about 10-per-cent of the time, we followed the script. We had the writers behind the monitors, throwing out lines to us all of the time - different jokes, different ideas. And Sacha is a genius at improv, so the challenge as an actor, when you are in those scenes, is to stay on your toes. You have to step up to the plate and be able to play with them. It was really rewarding in that way.
Her take on Zoey: ``She a girl who is not concerned with aesthetics; I really love the way I look in this movie. It feels independent and certainly not vain, which is fun. Even my armpit hair is all mine. I grew it out for three and a half months and I don't want anyone accusing me that it's fake!
``We serve as stand-ins for audience, continues Faris, ``the way the politicians did on 'Da Ali G Show', or any of the people who crossed paths with Borat. To that end, I was allowed to go wherever I wanted to with improvisation - there was freedom all round. There were moments of genius in there every once in a while-not on my end!-but there were also moments when I was thinking, 'Hm, I'm not sure that is ever going to work in this movie.' My character, as with other characters in the movie, our strengths lie in reacting to Sacha's lunacy, which is very important.
To anyone outside of a totalitarian state (where literally a nation of people look the other way every time their leader does something ridiculous and transparent...like holding his own Olympics), Aladeen's erratic behaviour may come off as imbalanced. ``I am not insane. Look at me. Am I insane? Am I insane? I am not--I'm one of the least insane dictators there are. In fact I'm maybe the cutest. You know I was voted Cutest Middle Eastern Dictator two years running. But I am not insane. What do I do that is insane?
For the character of Uncle Tamir, filmmakers looked beyond the waters of traditional comedic performers. ``We wanted a heavyweight, professes Charles, ``someone associated with great drama and intense acting. Sacha and I always thought, 'Wouldn't it be great if we could get Sir Ben Kingsley to play the role?'
Kingsley and Baron Cohen had met previously (``We had had exchanges-'Love your work,' 'Love your shoes'-that sort of thing, jokes Sir Ben). Then, the two collaborated on Martin Scorsese's affecting drama Hugo, and both their mutual respect and regard for the other deepened. Baron Cohen, Charles and Kingsley later met in New York to discuss the new project, and found ``a tremendous connection between the three of us. We talked about the movie, and life in general. If you look at the diverse portrayals he has given over the years, you will see he is virtually capable of doing anything. But what we needed from him was not to try to be funny, but to be serious, and that would be funny. And he very much embraced that concept, relates Charles.
Sir Ben Kingsley states, ``I'd like to reassure the audience that no civilians were harmed in the making of this film. No goats, and no civilians. We had the opportunity to work with a spectacular cast of actors, all professionals, so that the stolen moments that were so integral to Sacha's other wonderful characters, these are not stolen moments. These are scripted, they're rehearsed, they're crafted, and that necessitated a crew maybe 20, 30, 40 times larger than he's previously been used to working with on his commando raids. And this isn't a commando raid, this is a battalion charge, and it's a huge difference. And it's also terribly exciting and just as challenging as the other projects, only in many different ways.
Even for one of the leading dramatic actors in the business, facing Baron Cohen in a scene was not without its difficulties. Kingsley attests, ``The obvious challenge to me, working with Sacha, is to try to not be funny. Not to allow his extraordinary sense of humor and delight in the humor of his character to be contagious, because I have to be the rock. I'm the straight man, but I also have to be aware of comedic rhythm. It's like playing great tennis, but when I hit the ball back to Sacha, it's just a straight volley-he can whack it back in his crazy way, and then I straight volley back. It's in that contrast, hopefully, that we'll get the dynamic of the comedic relationship.
Jason Mantzoukas found walking on to the set of a Sacha Baron Cohen movie somewhat intimidating, like joining a team where everyone already knows each other. But he found joining in the game to be gratifying. He says, ``There was a great core group of people that had all worked together, and they have a dynamic that really works to create good stuff-it's great to walk in to. Obviously, there was a script, and that was really funny. But then, there's another document, a script with alternate lines. So we'd explore those. And the writers, they'd have other options to try. Or Sacha's got an idea, or even in the middle of a take he'll make a really weird choice, and you go with that. It was great to be in an environment where ideas could and did come from anywhere, and we'd pretty much try them all.
``The person I really felt sorry for, Mantzoukas admits, ``was the script supervisor. I don't know how she dealt with it. Sometimes, we'd do a 20-minute take. There was some great stuff, and it still could be funny but not make it into the movie-if all of it did, it'd wind up being nine hours long.
FINDING AND FILMING IN ALADEEN'S WORLD
The flamboyant leader's arrival in the United States was in keeping with his larger-than-life personality, parading down Fifth Avenue astride a camel, while protestors lined the route. ``I love America. It's a wonderful place. Death to the West. There are so many people here who love me. You know, outside the hotel there are supporters with signs saying Aladeen, Aladeen! I don't know what the rest of the sign says, but my PR minister tells me they are extremely flattering.
He pauses, then continues, ``In Wadiya, there are no dissidents. The opinion poll says 112 of the population adores me, and 14 are indifferent. There are no dissidents, there are no protestors in my country. They are all foreign terrorist gangs.
Production of The Dictator began in Brooklyn, New York, in June of 2011. For the next three months the company visited four of New York's five boroughs, setting down in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. The task of finding the various locations fell to production designer Victor Kempster and location manager Kip Myers.
Says Myers, ``This particular film had a lot of locations already written into the script: the United Nations, a zoo, Fifth Avenue. But the idea of creating Wadiya in New York presented more of a puzzle.
Recalls Kempster, ``When I met with Sacha, I had just seen Brüno, which I though was hilarious, a perverse act of true provocation. I thought the idea that he would stay in character for something like 16 hours and draw out whatever truth there was to bear in the interaction was amazing. At that meeting, they were being very cagey about the script. It was his first narrative film per se and a wonderful political satire. And I was amazed at the timing. It was about a North African dictator and meanwhile, North Africa and the Middle East were going through an explosive period. I thought Sacha was terribly prescient to have gotten the timing so amazingly right.
``And the tone of the film was very interesting, in that it was a funny political satire making use of all of his skills as a comedian, continues the production designer. ``But it also had a nice story and a rather graceful way to handle the comedy of it. In a way, there is a little bit of an old-fashioned story, but so up-to-the-minute, a fish-out-of-water. You have this completely insane character, whose relationship with the real world makes no sense. He's a complete narcissist and very bizarre. Then he's brought to New York, and he winds up in a totally unfamiliar world.
In doing research for the film, Kempster travelled to Morocco and to the Emirates to get a sense of how such a man would live. As well, production looked at such figures as Libya's Qaddafi-``a one-off genius about clothes, an odd combination of brute and dandy-with a lifestyle so outrageous, it landed somewhere in the area of cartoonish (e.g., Ukrainian nurse guard?).
Kempster points out, ``We looked architecturally to the Emirates, chiefly because of the newness of everything there, and the almost rapacious manner in which they're competitively building unbelievable projects. Bigger than anyone, better than anyone, employing architects from all over the world. In what makes these leaders so fascinating is the combination of outrageous means and very peculiar choices...like their very repetitive use of artwork and portraiture of themselves.
Both Baron Cohen and the designer also looked at facets of the lifestyles documented in the book Dictator Style...the rather bold artistic choices demonstrated in Hussein's collection, for example. Kempster: ``Let's say fantasy artwork. Naked, beautiful, extremely well-endowed beauties, flying tigers in a place where cities are floating on clouds.
The Supreme Leader is not shy about weighing in on the style of (or lack of style of) his 'fellow leaders': ``The way Ahmadinejad dresses is an embarrassment for dictators. He looks like a snitch on Miami Vice. I mean, why does he never wear a tie? Is every day in Iran casual Friday? WTF?
For Aladeen's palace, three locations were melded into one...his bedroom being one of the more spectacular sets, which was actually a magnificent room in the Villard Mansion (now, the Helmsley Palace Hotel). Per costume designer Jeffrey Kurland, ``Aladeen is sort of a boy-child with an adolescent sexuality to him. That's part of the charm of how Sacha played it. He really is a big baby and his idea of how to engage in sexual relations is absolutely silly to the point of the impossible; that's part of why it's funny.
And while, as in the past, Baron Cohen would remain in character for filming, there were moments where the actor had to put on his alternate writer/producer persona. Larry Charles illustrates, ``On Borat, we would wake up in the morning and meet in the lobby, and he was Borat, and that was it. He would stay in character and all day. When we would have arguments, he would argue with me as Borat. Listen, we never had a second take on Borat or Brüno, so whatever that performance was, it had to be captured in that one take. With The Dictator, we were able to cut, we were able to talk, we were able to adjust and we were able to tweak things, and so it just wasn't practical for him to constantly stay in character. But we had our little tricks to plunge him back into character when we got in front of the camera. So even after a big discussion on the scene, he was very able to stay in that character and in that mindset-even without the voice and the mannerism, it's still there.
Where does a dictator find a defunct nuclear power plant when he needs one? Well, how about East Shoreham, New York, on Long Island? The Shoreham Nuclear Power plant was a nuclear boiling water reactor located adjacent to Wading River in East Shoreham, New York. Decommissioned by protests in 1989, after generating only a small amount of commercial electrical power during testing, it had sat unused for more than 20 years.
Recalls Kip Myers, ``We looked everywhere for this location. We saw huge empty warehouses and airplane hangars and New York basements with big pipes-but Victor was adamant that this had to be really, really huge and look like the real space. Then we stumbled upon the Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant.
Repeated testing with Geiger counters confirmed the environment as completely safe, but some were nervous during the first scout. That soon gave way to the enthusiasm felt by the design team, having landed in such an enormous (and near perfect) environment for the sequences. Production utilized the facility's control room, and then constructed a gigantic, ``kind of Dr. No set, based on research of an Iranian centrifuge room in a similar plant.
The entrance to the plant was filmed at a small farmhouse in Spain, so that the plant itself seems disguised as an abandoned dairy farm in the middle of the desert - Aladeen walks past cows and women hanging laundry, passes through a high-tech door, and emerges in the nuclear facility. Later, his return to the facility finds it a little worse for the wear, with cows actually inside the plant.
For that scene, 24 Holsteins and Cardenas were brought in from Pennsylvania and hauled up to the fourth floor set in a newly constructed elevator (the factory's original no longer functioned), where the livestock extras roamed the room (now carpeted in a special flooring and covered in hay).
From bovine to big city...one of the toughest scenes to film was not on a farm or a power plant, but on the streets of New York City. Per the script, Aladeen's entry into the Big Apple is manifested in a parade down Fifth Avenue. The Dictator's summer shooting schedule was confronted with the city's seasonal litany of weekend parades and festivals. Production needed to lock down a date quickly to ensure that filming would be permitted.
``We closed down Fifth Avenue from 53rd Street to 57th Street, and had to re-route traffic from 6:00 to 10:00 in the morning. We only had one day in June to do it, one chance at it, because there are so many parades in New York during the summer. Thank goodness it was a nice, sunny day, recalls Kempster.
Production not only had to seek permission from the police, but also the department of health, as Aladeen (and his luggage) make their way up the Avenue on camels. Permits were issued by 'grandfathering' in the camels, thanks to the Rockefeller Center's yearly use of the animals in their Christmas manger scene (new rules went into effect soon after production left, which no longer allows the creatures - so The Dictator camels made it into New York just in time). The camels were in good company, marching along with a real Presidential limousine and four custom-painted baby blue Lamborghini Murciélagos.
Once down Fifth Avenue, the company relocated to the Roosevelt Hotel, called the Lancaster in the story, where Aladeen first lands in New York. (The interior of his palatial suite was constructed on a soundstage in Brooklyn, taking up nearly the entire stage. The hotel's exterior, lobby and re-dressed ballroom were utilized for filming.)
Explains Kempster: ``When I was in Morocco scouting, there was a hotel nearby where one of these kings was going to be staying. They arrived with a huge retinue of people. When they travel, they change all the furniture, bring in their own version of wall-to-wall carpet and their paintings-of themselves, generally. The wives and women do not live in the same space; they stay somewhere else. So when we designed his hotel room, we brought some of that into it.
An important ``get for production was obtaining permission to film the anti-Aladeen demonstration outside of the United Nations. Having invited several past dramas to shoot in or around the facility, this was the first time the organization was confronted with a film request coming from a comedy. But given the fact that one of the story points involves the struggle for one nation to attain democracy, the U.N. agreed.
I spit on the United Nation. Why would I listen to the United Nation? You know, they invited me to speak? You know how long they asked me to speak for? Seven minutes. You know what I said to them? I will speak for 14 hours, and some of them would be literally untranslatable, you know, baby noises [makes baby noises]!
Such collisions of the 'real' and the near-'real' were not lost on Sir Ben Kingsley. He points out, ``I believe Sacha is as fearless as Charlie Chaplin was when Chaplin decided to make the film The Great Dictator, which was in 1940. I recently got a DVD of it and I was amazed that it was made so early in the War. Before the U.S. entered in 1941, here he was making jokes not only at Hitler's expense, but also Nazi Germany and fascist Italy. It's a mercilessly funny film and a great piece of satire and dangerously timely. I think Sacha and Chaplin have a great deal in common.
The set for Zoey's Free Earth Collective needed to be housed in an empty storefront, which itself would need to be located in a neighborhood unruffled by 15 days of major motion picture filming. Production hit a ``home run when it discovered such a disused store on West 37th, with enough space nearby to station the multiple production vehicles with relatively little headache to local residents and passers-through.
But upstairs-the rooftop farm written into the script-had to be located elsewhere. The roof of the 37th Street store did not look like the place for a garden. So, for the Collective's farm, the company removed themselves to Brooklyn where, on the shoreline of the East River with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline, the Eagle Street Rooftop Farm is located. A 6,000 foot organic vegetable farm, it is located atop a warehouse in Greenpoint. During New York's growing season, the farmers at Eagle Street supply a community-supported agricultural program and bicycle fresh produce to area restaurants. They also host a range of farm-based educational and volunteer programs.
More reality entered into production when choosing the site of the eating establishment known as the Death to Aladeen Restaurant, located in the supposed area of New York called Little Wadiya. Production wound up scouting an area of Queens known as Little Egypt, about the same time as the recent unrest and demonstrations in that country. As Baron Cohen and filmmakers walked in and out of restaurants, the employees of every store and eatery were tuned in to the news from Tunisia and Libya, so they were able to observe first-hand what it felt like to long for change in a homeland halfway around the world.
Other New York locations included scenes filmed in/on/around: the Apple Store on the Upper West Side; a metal stamping company in Brooklyn; the Icahn Stadium on Randall's Island (where Aladeen wins his many track and field medals); the West 30th Street Heliport; the Queensboro Bridge; Orsay Restaurant on the Upper East Side; Times Square; the former Mount Moriah Baptist Church in Central Harlem (recently sold to be transformed into a community, cultural and exhibition center); and the Staten Island Zoo.
Reality also dealt the company a different hand, when the political landscape in the Middle East necessitated a location shift-where Morocco was once the intended stand-in for Wadiya, those scenes would now be filmed in various parts of Spain.
Per Charles: ``We were going to shoot our Middle Eastern section - our Wadiyan section - in Morocco, but the environment proved too changeable. I think that makes this project very timely, but it's a tricky game. It's great to stay one step ahead of events, but you definitely don't want to fall a couple of steps behind. But the Arab Spring and subsequent events continue to unfurl even now, and don't seem to be any closer to ending any time soon.
At the end of filming in New York, the company travelled to Seville, Spain, where the famed Plaza España doubled for the exterior of Aladeen's Wadiyan palace. Designed by the architect Aníbal González as part of an extensive urban development project for the Ibero-American Exhibition, the Mudejar Pavilion was the centerpiece of the 1929 Ibero-American World's Fair.
Following Seville, the company decamped to the island of Fuerteventura, one of Spain's Canary Islands in the Atlantic just off the coast of Africa. The second largest of the Islands, Fuerteventura was declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 2009. Although considered a tourist destination, much of the island is made up of large plains, lavascapes and volcanic mountains.
In a nod to Lawrence of Arabia, production took advantage of the beautiful Corralejo Sand Dunes to shoot scenes of Aladeen riding Garrett, his powerful Friesian stallion, through Wadiya's Jalabiya Desert. (Garrett's resume also boasts starring roles in such films as Hidalgo, Alexander and Clash of the Titans.) The dairy exterior of the Wadiyan nuclear facility was found just outside Puerto del Rosario, and further scenes involving the goat herd (can there be too many scenes involving a goat herd?) were shot in the mountainous terrain in the La Oliva region on the northern tip of the island.
For director Larry Charles, his third collaboration with Sacha Baron Cohen provided him yet another opportunity to revisit a special kind of cinema. Charles closes, ``My favorite comedy is always one that works on multiple levels...even going back to when I was a kid, watching Warner Bros. cartoons like Bugs Bunny. As I got older and more sophisticated, I realized that they were making jokes at all other levels for adults, and making references to things that a kid wouldn't understand. But that made me want to understand. Later, I found it to be the same with something like Saturday Night Live as well. So I'm happy with anybody going to this movie and getting whatever they get out of it. My main job is to offer them as much as possible - to give them as dense and intense an experience as possible, and then it's up to them to engage with it however they want to, whoever they are at that particular time, going into the theater and absorbing it in that particular moment. So I'm open to whatever experience people have with the movie, as long as they ultimately enjoy it on some level.
Whatever the future holds for Wadiya and its leader, Aladeen will always hold a place in his heart for the good days gone by. ``I must say, I miss Kim Jong-il very much. You know, he was a great guy. He died as he lived...in three-inch heels. The guy did so much for the world, you know. He spread wisdom, compassion and herpes throughout Southeast Asia. But he was very bullied at the gatherings of the Axis of Evil. Gaddafi would always make these jokes on him. One time, Muammar took Jong's Blackberry and would send love messages to Ahmadinejad, telling him he wanted to kiss him, and promising the Korean people that they would get food. You know, Libya almost got nuked for that.
About the Cast
SACHA BARON COHEN (General Aladeen / Produced by / Written by) made his mark in the comedy world as his alter ego ``Ali G, host of HBO's popular, multiple-Emmy-nominated comedy Da Ali G Show. Initially regarded as the 1 comedy phenomenon in England, the show was an instant success after airing on HBO in 2003. Baron Cohen originated the character of ``Ali G in 1998 on the British television comedy The 11 O'Clock Show. Baron Cohen served as an executive producer on the series, in addition to acting and writing for it.
Fond of performing in character, Baron Cohen has twice hosted the MTV Europe Music Awards to record numbers, in 2001 as ``Ali G in Frankfurt, Germany, then in 2005 as ``Borat in Lisbon, Portugal. He won the GQ Man of the Year Award four times on both sides of the Atlantic, and delivered the 2004 Class Day address at Harvard University as ``Ali G.
Da Ali G Show received six Emmy Award nominations. In 2003 it was nominated for Outstanding Non-Fiction Program, Outstanding Writing Non-Fiction Program, and Outstanding Directing Non-Fiction Program. In 2005 the show was nominated for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series; Outstanding Writing, Variety, Music or Comedy Series; and Outstanding Directing, Variety, Music or Comedy Series. The show also received accolades in the UK prior to its stateside debut, with Sacha Baron Cohen garnering two BAFTA Awards. After completing two seasons, Baron Cohen set out to conquer the world with Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, a feature film starring his second alter ego, Borat Sagdiyev, a Kazakhstani news reporter.
Baron Cohen is known worldwide for creating ``one of the greatest comedies of the last decade and perhaps even a whole new genre of film, according to Rolling Stone magazine. Borat opened 1 in 24 countries, while setting a U.S. box office record for films opening on 1000 screens or less grossing over $26 million. Ultimately, the film grossed more than $250 million worldwide. In 2007, Baron Cohen took home the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical, and an Academy Award(R) nomination for Adapted Screenplay.
Since its release in November 2006, Borat has garnered numerous awards and honors. The film was named one of the Ten Most Outstanding Motion Pictures of the Year by AFI. Individually, Baron Cohen received Writer of the Year at the 2007 British Writers Guild Awards and was nominated for WGA Award in the Adapted Screenplay category. Baron Cohen won Best Actor awards from the Los Angeles Films Critics Association, Utah Film Critics, San Francisco Films Critics Circle, Toronto Film Critics Association and Online Film Critics.
His feature film projects include the hit comedy Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby with co-stars Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly. He was also the voice behind the animated character ``King Julien in the DreamWorks Animation's feature Madagascar, which grossed over $500 million worldwide. In 2008, Baron Cohen returned as the voice of ``King Julien in the sequel Madagascar 2: Escape to Africa, which grossed $594 million worldwide. In 2007, Baron Cohen appeared with Johnny Depp in Tim Burton's film adaptation of the classic Sondheim musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. In this Academy Award(R)-winning film, Baron Cohen co-starred as 'Signor Adolfo Pirelly,' Todd's (Depp's) competitor in the haircutting world.
In 2009, Baron Cohen returned to the screen as ``Brüno, his other alter-ego character from Da Ali G Show. Re-teaming with his Borat collaborator Jay Roach, Baron Cohen helped produce and write Brüno. This Universal Pictures' film grossed $138 million worldwide and won The Peter Sellers Award for Comedy.
Baron Cohen most recently teamed up with renowned director Martin Scorsese in the film Hugo. Joining them as one of the films producers is former Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street co-star Johnny Depp. This mystery set in the 1930's is about an orphan who lives inside the the walls of a Paris train station, and ultimately gets wrapped up in a mystery involving his father (played by Jude Law) and the enigmatic Pappa Georges. The film, released in December of 2011, went on to win five Academy Awards(R).
Undoubtedly, Baron Cohen has captured audiences with his characters ``Brüno and ``Ali G; however, the true scope of his talent will be seen in the upcoming Freddie Mercury biopic, scheduled for release in 2013. Baron Cohen will star as ``Freddie Mercury in this highly anticipated film that tells the story of the years leading up to Queen's appearance at the Live Aid concert in 1985. Writer for this film is Academy Award(R) nominee, Peter Morgan, joined by the film's producer, Academy Award(R) winner, Robert De Niro.
Baron Cohen resides in both Los Angeles and London with his wife, actress Isla Fisher, and their two daughters.
ANNA FARIS (Zoey) is currently shooting I Give It a Year, alongside Rose Bryne and Simon Baker for Working Title. Faris was last seen in What's Your Number, a romantic comedy for 20th Century FOX, alongside Chris Evans. She is an Executive Producer on the film, which is directed by Mark Mylod.
Previously, Faris produced and starred in the hit film The House Bunny, in the leading role of 'Shelley Darlington,' a Playboy Bunny who is kicked out of the mansion and tries to adjust to life on the outside. The project was hatched from an original idea by Faris; she collaborated with the writers of Legally Blonde on the script. She served as a producer on the film, alongside Happy Madison Productions for Sony Pictures.
Faris co-starred in the Oscar(R)-nominated film Lost in Translation, alongside Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson for director Sofia Coppola. The critically acclaimed box-office hit earned Faris rave reviews. Faris' additional feature films include: Observe & Report, Brokeback Mountain (for director Ang Lee), Smiley Face (for director Gregg Araki), Yogi Bear, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Alvin & the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, Take Me Home Tonight, Mama's Boy, Just Friends, Waiting, Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel, and Scary Movie, Scary Movie 2, Scary Movie 3, and Scary Movie 4. These last four films represent Dimension Films' most successful franchise to date.
On television, Faris has had memorable recurring roles on Entourage as 'Herself,' and on the final season of Friends, playing a surrogate mother to 'Monica' and 'Chandler's' adopted baby.
Originally from Seattle, Faris started acting in the theater at a young age. She currently lives in Los Angeles.
After earning an Academy Award(R), two Golden Globes and two BAFTA Awards for his riveting portrayal of Indian social leader Mahatma Gandhi, SIR BEN KINGSLEY (Tamir) continues to bring unequaled detail and nuance to each role. In 1984, Kingsley was awarded the Padma Sri by Indira Gandhi and the government of India. Kingsley went on to earn three additional Oscar(R) nominations for Bugsy (1991), Sexy Beast (2000) and House of Sand and Fog (2003). His roles have been as diverse as his talents, from a sturdy vice president in Dave to the scheming Fagin in Oliver Twist. Since being knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in the New Year's Eve Honors List 2001, Kingsley has continued to earn honors as a truly international star.
Kingsley was most recently seen in Martin Scorsese's Hugo alongside Sacha Baron Cohen and Chloë Moretz; released in 2011, the film earned five Academy Awards(R). Kingsley was also seen starring in Martin Scorsese's 1950s drama Shutter Island, with Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo and Michelle Williams, as well as Jerry Bruckheimer's Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, with Jake Gyllenhaal and Gemma Arterton.
He recently was the star of the sexually charged Elegy opposite Penelope Cruz and directed by Isabel Coixet, and for which he was nominated British Actor of the Year by the London Critics Circle Film Awards. He starred in two films at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, giving further perspective to his work: the Audience Award-winning and Grand Jury Prize nominated The Wackness, in which he plays a drug-addled psychiatrist opposite Josh Peck, Famke Janssen, Olivia Thirlby and Mary-Kate Olsen; and the crime thriller Transsiberian, as a mysterious traveler opposite Woody Harrelson. He also starred in50 Dead Men, a thriller set against the dangerous backdrop of 1980s Ireland, and the more lighthearted crime comedy War, Inc. opposite John Cusack.
Steeped in British theater, Kingsley marked the beginning of his professional acting career with his acceptance by the Royal Shakespeare Company in l967. From roles in A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Tempest, Brutus in Julius Caesar and the title roles in Othello and Hamlet, among others, his more recent and diverse stage roles include those in The Country Wife, The Cherry Orchard, A Betrothal and Waiting for Godot.
Kingsley's film career began in l972 with the thriller Fear Is the Key, but his first major role came a decade later in the epic Gandhi, directed by Richard Attenborough. He followed this Oscar(R)-winning performance with such early films as Betrayal, Turtle Diary, Harem, Pascali's Island, Without a Clue (as Dr. Watson to Michael Caine's Sherlock Holmes) and The Children opposite Kim Novak. During the '90s Kingsley distinguished himself through such roles as Mayer Lansky in Bugsy, Sneakers, Searching for Bobby Fischer and Dave. In 1994 he was nominated for a BAFTA Award for his memorable supporting role as Itzhak Stern in Steven Spielberg's seven-time Oscar(R) winner, Schindler's List.
During the past decade, Ben Kingsley has remained a coveted and ubiquitous talent. Beginning with such films as Rules of Engagement, What Planet Are You From? and an Oscar(R)-nominated role as a brutal gangster in Sexy Beast, he received his most recent Oscar(R) nomination in 2004 for his performance as a proud Iranian emigrant in the highly acclaimed House of Sand and Fog. Among his films in the last several years are Roman Polanski's Oliver Twist, the crime drama Lucky Number Slevin, John Dahl's You Kill Me and the Roman Empire saga The Last Legion.
JASON MANTZOUKAS (Nadal) recently began production on the second season of Enlightened for HBO. He also stars as ``Rafi on FX's The League and has guest-starred on Parks and Recreation, Life and Times of Tim and NTSF.
His feature film credits include Please Give and Baby Mama.
As a writer, Mantzoukas created the pilot Off Duty that starred Bradley Whitford at NBC, and recently developed Ambulance Chasers for FX. He is currently writing an original script as part of the Imagine Writer's Lab and also wrote the most recent draft of Ride Along starring Ice Cube for New Line.
He also wrote and consulted on the last two seasons of Children's Hospital, which airs on Adult Swim, and served as a consultant on Portlandia for IFC.
Last year, Mantzoukas, along with Paul Scheer and June Diane Raphael, created the podcast ``How Did This Get Made, which each week discusses and tries to make sense of a notoriously bad film. ITunes named the series as one of their ``Best New Comedy Podcasts of 2011.
About the Filmmakers
LARRY CHARLES (Directed by) is the award-winning writer producer and/or director of such comedy classics as Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Entourage, Borat, Brüno, Religulous and The Dictator.
SACHA BARON COHEN (Written by / Produced by) - see ``About the Cast
ALEC BERG (Written by / Produced by), DAVID MANDEL (Written by / Produced by) and JEFF SCHAFFER (Written by / Produced by) began their writing career together in college as editors of The Harvard Lampoon. In 1991, they received their first credit on Comedy Central's MTV Give Me Back My Life. After separate stints (Berg and Schaffer at Late Night with Conan O'Brien and Mandel at Saturday Night Live), they reunited at Seinfeld. There they were nominated for numerous Emmys and guild awards and eventually helped run the show until it was cancelled by NBC.
After being driven from the TV business, they began concentrating on feature films, writing numerous original screenplays and doing extensive rewrite work for Mike Myers, Will Smith, Jim Carrey, Robert Zemeckis, Jay Roach, Ron Howard and Brian Grazer. In 2004, they co-wrote and co-directed the cult teen comedy Eurotrip.
In recent years they have returned to TV to write, direct and produce HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm with Larry David, for which they have once again received numerous Emmy and guild nominations.
On the heels of having worked with him on Borat and Brüno, the trio conceived of and co-wrote with Sacha Baron Cohen the script that would become The Dictator. They also serve as producers on the film.
TODD SCHULMAN (Produced by) has been working with Sacha Baron Cohen since 2003 and the HBO television series Da Ali G Show. He was field supervisor on the Oscar(R)-nominated Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan and co-produced Brüno.
Since 2009 he has been Vice President of Production and Development at Sacha Baron Cohen's production company, Four By Two Films.
In the 1990s, Academy Award(R)-nominated writer ANT (ANTHONY) HINES (Produced by) worked on a number of successful British comedy shows for the BBC and Channel 4, amongst other broadcasters, which led to him meeting and working with Sacha Baron Cohen on Channel 4's The 11 O'Clock Show. This was followed by a wildly successful series of Da Ali G Show for the same network, after which HBO commissioned two series under the same name, for which Hines was the head writer, earning him two Emmy nominations. Hines continued his collaboration with Baron Cohen as co-writer of the film Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Better Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, which earned him an Academy Award(R) nomination. He then co-wrote and was executive producer of Universal Pictures' Brüno and is a producer on The Dictator. Currently, Hines is co-writing the Sony feature Church Wars for Baron Cohen and is also developing a half-hour TV series for HBO.
SCOTT RUDIN (Produced by) - Films include: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close; Moneyball; Moonrise Kingdom; Margaret; The Social Network; True Grit; Greenberg; It's Complicated; Fantastic Mr. Fox; Julie & Julia; Doubt; No Country for Old Men; There Will Be Blood; Reprise; The Queen; Margot at the Wedding; Notes on a Scandal; Venus; Closer; Team America: World Police; I Heart Huckabees; School of Rock; The Hours; Iris; The Royal Tenenbaums; Zoolander; Sleepy Hollow; Wonder Boys; Bringing Out the Dead; South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut; The Truman Show; In & Out; Ransom; The First Wives Club; Clueless; Nobody's Fool; The Firm; Searching for Bobby Fischer; Sister Act; and The Addams Family.
Theater includes: Passion; Hamlet; Seven Guitars; A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum; Skylight; The Chairs; The Blue Room; Closer; Amy's View; Copenhagen; The Designated Mourner; The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?; Caroline, or Change; The Normal Heart; Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?; Doubt; Faith Healer; The History Boys; Shining City; Stuff Happens; The Vertical Hour; The Year of Magical Thinking; Gypsy; God of Carnage; Fences; The House of Blue Leaves; Jerusalem; The Motherf**ker with the Hat; The Book of Mormon; One Man, Two Guvnors; and Death of a Salesman.
Television includes HBO's The Newsroom.
MARI JO WINKLEY-IOFFREDA (Executive Producer) served as executive producer on Premium Rush, directed by David Koepp and starring Joseph Gordon Levitt; Fair Game, directed by Doug Liman, starring Naomi Watts and Sean Penn; Away We Go, directed by Sam Mendes, starring John Kransinski and Maya Rudolf; and Dan in Real Life, directed by Peter Hedges, starring Steve Carell and Juliet Binoche. Prior to her executive producer credits, she was the co-producer on No Reservations, directed by Scott Hicks, starring Catherine Zeta Jones, Aaron Ekhardt and Abigail Breslin; and two Curtis Hanson films-Lucky You, starring Eric Bana and Drew Barrymore; and In Her Shoes, starring Cameron Diaz, Toni Collette and Shirley MacLaine. She also co-produced Peter Chelsom's re-make of the Japanese hit Shall We Dance, starring Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez.
Winkler worked her way up through the production ranks, serving as a production manager for a decade on films such as The Shipping News, Cold Mountain, A Thousand Acres, The Crucible and The Object of My Affection.
She is a dedicated environmentalist and a Chair of the PGA National Green Committee. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.
ADAM McKAY (Executive Producer) is a writer, director and producer, whose film credits include Anchorman, Talladega Nights, Step Brothers and, most recently, The Other Guys. He is a former head writer of Saturday Night Live and one of the founding members of the Upright Citizens Brigade. Other past credits include writing for Michael Moore's show The Awful Truth and co- founding the comedy website ``Funny or Die with Will Ferrell. Adam also produces HBOs hit comedy series Eastbound and Down, now in its third season, through his and Ferrells company, Gary Sanchez Productions. In 2009 he took to the stage, directing the Tony-nominated Broadway show You're Welcome America: A Final Night with George W. Bush.
PETER BAYNHAM (Executive Producer) is an acclaimed screen and television writer and producer whose credits include the hit comedy Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, for which he earned Academy Award(R) and Writers Guild Award nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay. The film was also nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Musical or Comedy, and was on the American Film Institute's 2006 Best Movies list. Baynham also wrote the story for Brüno, its successful follow-up. He created Sony Pictures/Aardman Animation's international hit animated comedy feature Arthur Christmas, which he wrote with director Sarah Smith. The movie, nominated for Golden Globe, BAFTA and Annie Awards, received excellent reviews; it was the Rotten Tomatoes' website's best-reviewed animated movie of 2012.
Baynham's television credits include writing two seasons of the BBC's critically acclaimed, extremely popular I'm Alan Partridge, starring Steve Coogan. The show won a British Comedy Award and Baynham received a BAFTA Award for Best Series. He also received a BAFTA Best Comedy Series nomination as co-writer of BBC 2's highly acclaimed, groundbreaking series The Day Today, which was also nominated for a British Comedy Award for Best Series. In addition, Baynham co-wrote Channel 4's controversial comedy series Brass Eye and Jam.
Baynham's performances on television include the highly popular character Peter from the BBC's Fist of Fun and a co-presenter of the satirical comedy series Friday Night Armistice. Baynham also wrote and directed his own acclaimed BBC2 animation comedy series I am Not an Animal.
Baynham wrote the screenplay for 2011's Arthur. An upcoming project in development with Sacha Baron Cohen is comedy feature Accidentes, charting the rise of a Latino ambulance-chasing personal injury lawyer.
Baynham's path to his profession was circuitous, to say the least. Growing up in Wales, he ran away to sea at 16. However, his encounter with the romance of the high seas was an unmitigated disaster, when he nearly collided with a ferry; he was asked to leave the Merchant Navy. Baynham headed to London to pursue a more suitable job as a writer. He remains an appalling navigator.
DAN MAZER (Executive Producer) is a British screenwriter, TV/film producer, director and comedian. He is best known as the longtime writing and production partner of Sacha Baron Cohen and has worked with him on such characters as ``Ali G and ``Borat. Mazer co-wrote and co-produced the films Ali G Indahouse (2002), Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006) and Brüno (2009).
Mazer attended Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School, where he met Baron Cohen. He went on to read Law at Peterhouse, Cambridge University. He was an active member of Cambridge Footlights while at university and was vice president from 1993 to 1994. His early work includes production roles on The Word, The Big Breakfast and The 11 O'Clock Show. More recently, he created, wrote and directed Dog Bites Man for Comedy Central.
In 2007, he was nominated for an Academy Award(R) for Best Adapted Screenplay for co-writing Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan with Sacha Baron Cohen, Ant Hines, Peter Baynham and Todd Phillips.
Along with working on several feature projects, he is currently in production on I Give It a Year, an anti-romantic comedy starring Rose Byrne, Anna Faris, Rafe Spall and Simon Baker for Working Title Films and Studio Canal, which marks his feature directorial debut.
The Dictator marks VICTOR KEMPSTER's (Production Designer) first collaboration with multi-hyphenate Sacha Baron Cohen. Previously, Kempster teamed up with Tom Hanks on three films: he designed Mike Nichols' Charlie Wilson's War and both of Hanks' directorial efforts-That Thing You Do! and Larry Crowne, co-starring Julia Roberts.
Kempster got his start as a location coordinator before finding his calling in the art department. He was the art director on Best Picture(R) winner Driving Miss Daisy, before embarking on a long and fruitful relationship with Oliver Stone. Beginning with his work on Born on the Fourth of July, he earned his stripes as production designer on the historic tapestry JFK. Kempster cultivated the ability to utilize a broad palette of visual styles working with the influential filmmaker, and their artistic partnership flourished on such films as Heaven and Earth, Natural Born Killers, Nixon, U Turn and Any Given Sunday.
Notable achievements include capturing the alluring yet dangerous criminal underbelly in Michael Mann's big-screen version of Miami Vice, and depicting the growing tensions of a Southern city in the TV mini-series Chiefs, which garnered Kempster his first Emmy nomination for Outstanding Art Direction. Other feature credits of note include Barry Levinson's Envy; Bandits, starring Bruce Willis and Cate Blanchett; and Spike Lee's Bamboozled.
GREG HAYDEN (Edited by) has edited such films as Little Fockers; Ben Stiller's Tropic Thunder, for which he received an American Cinema Editors (ACE) Eddie Award nomination for Best Edited Comedy/Musical; Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason; Danny DeVito's Duplex (shared credit); Ben Stiller's Zoolander; and Jay Roach's Austin Powers in Goldmember (shared credit).
His credits as an additional editor or co-editor include Blades of Glory; Meet the Parents; Mystery, Alaska; Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me; and Forever Young.
ERIC KISSACK (Edited by) got his start editing television in New York, but quickly realized that he was predisposed to loathing cold weather. He has been working as a feature film editor in Los Angeles for the last several years. His credits include Role Models, Brüno, Cedar Rapids and A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas. He still wears sweaters when it's 60 degrees in Los Angeles.
JEFFREY KURLAND (Costume Designer) began his career in costume design in New York City. After graduating from Northwestern University with a B.A. in design, he moved to the East Coast to design for the theater. Jeffrey soon segued into designing costumes for film when he began designing the stylish films of director Woody Allen.
Kurland has the unique distinction of being the costume designer of 15 films for Woody Allen, from the late 1970s to the mid-1990s. He has since realized the visual story for over 40 films, collaborating with such renowned directors as Milos Forman, Neil Jordan, Steven Soderbergh, Michael Mann and Christopher Nolan.
During his career, Jeffrey has dressed a host of leading actors. He has created designs for leading men such as George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Matt Damon, Jamie Foxx, Robert Downey, Jr., Michael Caine, Viggo Mortensen and Leonardo DiCaprio. He has also designed for leading ladies Julia Roberts, Marion Cotillard, Cameron Diaz, Annette Bening, Diane Keaton, Gena Rowlands and Ellen Page. He received a BAFTA Award, Britain's highest film honor, for his designs for Radio Days and an Academy Award(R) nomination for his work on Bullets Over Broadway. Jeffrey was awarded the Costume Designers Guild award for his designs for the film Erin Brockovich and received a nomination for his work on Ocean's 11. His work has also been recognized through being honored with The Hamilton Timeless Style Award.
Jeffrey Kurland sits on the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He co-curated the exhibit 50 Designers/50 Costumes: Concept to Character for the Academy, and his designs have also been featured in several exhibits around the world. He has spoken on the art of costume design in numerous symposia at the Directors Guild of America, the American Film Institute, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and UCLA, where he has also taught. Jeffrey's work is featured in the publications Screencraft: Costume Design, 50 Designers/50 Costumes: Concept to Character and Dressed: A Century of Hollywood Costume Design. His work will also be represented in the upcoming exhibit, Style and Seduction: The Art of Motion Picture Design at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, October 2012.
ERRAN BARON COHEN (Music by) has composed music for a myriad of eclectic projects, encompassing orchestral commissions, advertisements, cutting-edge dance and film/TV scores. He is perhaps best known for his award-wining scores to the 2007 global blockbuster Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan and Brüno (2009).
Following the release of Borat, the Kazakhstan Philharmonic commissioned Baron Cohen to compose a symphony. The subsequent work ``Zere, scored for a 70-piece orchestra, was performed in London and Kazakhstan and also recorded at the legendary Abbey Road Studios.
Baron Cohen is also the founding member of 'World Fusion Beat Scientists' Zohar, which has seen him tour the world with his band and also as a club DJ. Zohar's last album, Do You Have Any Faith, was released in 2007 (through Miles Copeland's CIA label) and the band's critically acclaimed debut, one.three.seven was released in 2001 (Universal/Ark21).
In 2008 Baron Cohen completed his first album project as a solo artist - Songs in the Key of Hanukkah (New Line Records), which features guest appearances by a variety of world-class artists intent on expanding an updating the festival's musical repertoire. The album contains new songs performed by Israeli stars Idan Raichel & Yasmin Levy, and New York-based rapper Y-Love to name but a few, all of whom co-wrote their songs with Baron Cohen. Released in December 2008, the album received saturation press coverage in the U.S., where Baron Cohen was featured in print and on several major NPR radio shows. ``Dreidel,a cut off the album, was performed live on Late Night with Conan O'Brien.