Back in August, I wrote about Sacha Baron Cohen’s Bruno and its apparent distortion of a key, Palestinian interview subject.
The actor and comic Baron Cohen plays a gay Austrian fashion journalist in the film, which was released in the UK in July. Keen to become what he calls “the most famous Austrian since Hitler,” Bruno travels to the middle east, and in a short interview with Abu Aita, asks to be kidnapped in an attempt to become famous.
A caption labels Abu Aita as a member of the militant al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, the armed wing of the Fatah movement. He is a member of the board of the Holy Land trust, a non-profit organisation that works on Palestinian community-building.
Cohen was interviewed on David Letterman’s talkshow in the US, and said finding a “terrorist” to interview for the movie took several months and some help from a CIA contact.
He said he had feared for his safety during the interview with Abu Aita, which he claimed took place at a secret location.
According to the lawsuit, however, the interview with Abu Aita took place at a hotel chosen by Cohen in a part of the West Bank that was under Israeli military control. The film’s distributor, NBC Universal, and the director, Larry Charles, are also named in the proceedings.