“Will cinema be silent or will it talk about it?” This question echoed from a stage at the Cannes Festival Theater on Tuesday evening, posed by none other than Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. He was surprisingly connected with a video message during the opening ceremony of the 75th Cannes Film Festival .
Zelenskyi drew a comparison to Charlie Chaplin’s film The Great Dictator to call on cinema not to remain silent in the face of the Russian attack on Ukraine. “Hundreds of people die every day,” he said. “They won’t get up after the final applause.”
He asked: “Will cinema be silent or talk about it? If there is a dictator, if there is a war of freedom, everything again depends on our cohesion. (…) We need a new Chaplin who proves that cinema is not silent these days.”
Volodymyr Zelenskyj kept coming back to Chaplin, but also spoke of the war crimes that are currently being committed. But hope also played a role: “I say to everyone who hears me: don’t despair, hatred will eventually disappear and dictators will die.”
The war in Ukraine plays a role in Cannes right at the beginning of the festival. He also had an indirect influence on the opening film “Coupez!”, which was shown afterwards.
Following complaints from Ukraine, director Michel Hazanavicius agreed to rename his zombie comedy Z (comme Z) to Coupez! The “Z” has become an international symbol of support for Russia’s war of aggression in recent months.
So now “Coupez!”, which translates as “cuts / cut” and thus alludes to the film craft. That, in turn, is the theme of this film by Hazanavicius, which begins as a trashy zombie film and then turns out to be a meta-work about filmmaking. The comedy is based on the Japanese box office hit One Cut of the Dead (2017).
The viewers first see a half-hour, amateur zombie film without editing, in which the actors turn into the undead. Now that this movie within the movie is over, let’s jump back a few weeks and see a Japanese producer commission the zombie movie. For example, she insists that the European characters have Japanese names, the same as in the 2017 Japanese film.