"I like Borat and I think Sacha is a genius. In fact, I had an idea to invite him to opening night," says Bodrov, who is partly based in Kazakhstan and has strong ties to the region, where he has a grown daughter. "But I can understand my Kazakh friends who took Borat so personally and generated a lot of conspiracy theories about who paid him to make the movie. I said, 'Okay, guys, take it easy, it's comedy. He's laughing at Americans. Let's shoot a different movie and people will change their minds."

Mongol director Sergei Bodrov and Mongolian actress Khulan Chuluun
Mongol director Sergei Bodrov and Mongolian actress Khulan Chuluun

I don't know about that, but in the West, reviews for Mongol have been generally positive. "That's not a good sign," says Bodrov, laughing. "I don't want them to say it's intelligent." He's more concerned that the movie is getting a smaller release than outgoing Picturehouse head Bob Berney, who believes it can generate more revenue even than the company's other surprise hit, Pan's Labyrinth, had wished for. Still, Bodrov is once again fielding "huge" offers from Hollywood, though he's determined not to repeat his painful past history with the studios. "I work here, but it depends on the project and the people," he says vehemently. "If they give me control, maybe we can talk about it."

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