Renowned French director Michel Hazanavicius changed the title of his latest film to avoid any association with Russian war vehicles.
Hazanavicius’ next film was to be titled “Z (like Z)” or “Z (like Z)” in English, until Ukrainian filmmakers implored him to change the title.
The reason for the request is the use of the letter “Z” by the Russian army during its invasion of Ukraine. Since the beginning of the war, Russian soldiers painted the letter on the side of tanks and other armored vehicles that were sent to Ukraine.
The Russian War and the Letter “Z”
The letter “Z” is not part of the Russian Cyrillic alphabet and the origin of the symbol is unknown. A prevailing theory is that the letter is painted on vehicles to prevent friendly fire.
But since the start of the war, the Russians began to associate the letter with support for the invasion. The Kremlin-funded news network, RT, has started selling Z productsand the letter has been painted on buildings and has been the focal point of flashmobs.
Outside of Russia, the symbol has become emblematic of totalitarianism and Putin’s unjust war against the Ukrainian people.
Last week, Lithuania joined Latvia and Moldova by completely prohibiting the use of the sign.
The use of the symbol to justify military aggression and war crimes will now result in a substantial fine in all three countries, as they are on a list of banned symbols such as the Nazi swastika.
Germany is also considering a similar ban.
Reaction and a new name
“In view of the symbolic charge taken by the letter Z since the start of the war in Ukraine, and at the request of Ukrainian filmmakers, I have decided to change the title of my film,” Hazanavicius said in a statement.
“This title may have been funny when we finished the film a few months ago, but it’s not funny anymore, and I can’t take it anymore. My film is made to bring joy and in no way do I would like him to be directly or indirectly associated with this war.
“I am therefore very happy to change it (of title, editor’s note), and to this extent to mark my most total support for the Ukrainian people”, he concluded.
Hazanavicius gained international acclaim for his 2011 black-and-white silent film, “The Artist,” which was nominated for ten Academy Awards and won five, including Best Picture and Best Director.
The film, a zombie comedy starring Bérénice Béjo and Romain Duris has been renamed “Cut!”.
To cut! will be presented for the first time at the opening of the 75th Cannes Film Festival on May 17.