The Cathartic Potential of Documentary Films: Featuring Borat

The Cathartic Potential of Documentary Films: Featuring Borat

The one movie I've seen in theaters which had the largest mass audience reveling was "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" (2006).

"Borat" is interesting because it's half-documentary and half-fiction.

And it really, really works.

The documentary side of the movie has Sacha Baron Cohen interacting with (seemingly) unsuspecting people.

He creates a situation of high tension, forcing people nearby to genuinely respond.

The photography, crisp & Hollywood, suddenly switches to a lower resolution.

Hidden cameras. 

Something's about to happen.

(A chicken falls out of his luggage in a New York City subway, etc).

The huge, cathartic laughter comes from these documentary moments.

Catharsis is from Borat breaking taboos in the real world in a vivid manner.

...Much like performance art.

It's about being put into these extremely uncomfortable situations (for example, being thrown face-first into the pavement by security, or running around naked waving a rubber dildo while chasing another naked man in public...) which creates a high cinematic experience - and possibly the documentary form's greatest method of achieving mass social ablution.

As a documentary filmmaker, the most interesting work you do will be placing yourself in uncomfortable of situations... And then filming it.

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