The next film from director Michel Hazanavicius (Oscar winner for The artist) will have its world premiere at the prestigious French competition. It will be out of competition and as an opening function. However, it will not be announced or screened with its original title. This due to a request received by the Cannes Film Festival 2022on behalf of a public institution in Ukraine.
It so happens that the name of the aforementioned film refers (by coincidence and unintentionally) to a pro-war symbol of Russia’s current military intervention in Ukrainian territory. The title of this French film is Z (like Z) and its design—as some promotional materials reveal—emphasizes the first “Z,” this being a large, red, scrawled letter.
It is actually a zombie comedy. Hence, Michel Hazanavicius decided to call it that way, with the “Z” in the center of attention. But regardless of the director’s purposes, sadly that letter takes on a negative connotation in the midst of the Russian-Ukrainian war. According IndieWire, the «Z» is used by the Russian army to distinguish its troops. But also, in the course of recent months, it has become an emblem for those who support the war and the invasion ordered by President Vladimir Putin.
Therefore, the Ukrainian Institute (dedicated to promoting and disseminating the Ukrainian language and culture in the world) sent a letter to both Hazanavicius and the organizers of Cannes 2022, requesting the use of a different title for the film. Z (like Z) within the framework of the cinematographic event. «We consider that changing the title of the opening film of the Cannes Film Festival would be a gesture against the barbarism, violence and terror of the Russian army»exposes the letter (via Variety).
Variety It also includes the following statement by Natalie Movshovych, head of the film area at the Ukrainian Institute:
“In Russia, local media have already been using [el título de la película a su favor], publishing articles that could be summed up as: ‘See? They are also supporting us.’ we are asking you [al director de Cannes] Thierry Frémaux and Michel Hazanavicius to change the title on behalf of all the victims of kyiv, Mariupul and Kharkiv».
The petition was favorably received. The Cannes 2022 selection already lists the new film by Michel Hazanavicius by means of its international title, which is final cut. Its screening within the festival will take place on May 17.
I called my movie Z (like Z) in France because it’s a zombie comedy and it’s inspired by what we call in France ‘series Z’ or B movies in the United States,” the filmmaker told Variety. “Knowing that this title has caused some anguish to the Ukrainian people makes me feel helpless and very sad, because it is the last thing I wanted to do.”
On the other hand, Hazanavicius regretted that the title cannot be changed for its commercial release in France. “The title is on all the marketing material and also in the credits,” he said. “I would have changed it everywhere if I could have. My heart goes out to the Ukrainian people who have been suffering long enough.”
The entry Cannes 2022 changes title of opening film due to conflict in Ukraine was published first in Cine PREMIERE.