When it comes to the opening night film at Cannes, the festival usually rolls out the red carpet for a returning director. The last 10 years have seen festival openers from familiar faces including Baz Luhrmann, Woody Allen and Jim Jarmusch.
Its fitting, then, that Michel Hazanavicius gets this year’s edition started with “Final Cut.” The French director has previously presented three films in competition at Cannes, including the 2011 silent-era homage “The Artist,” which went on to win five Oscars.
“Final Cut” is a French-language remake of Shinichiro Ueda’s 2017 zombie comedy “One Cut of the Dead.” In a review for The New York Times, Elisabeth Vincentelli described the original, Japanese film as “an uproarious backstage farce” and “meta commentary” on making art.
The film’s original French title was “Z (Comme Z)” — as in “zombie” — but will be now be called “Coupez!” in France, “due to the symbolic charge that the letter Z has gained” since Russia invaded Ukraine, Hazanavicious said in a statement. The letter has been used by Russians to show their support for the war.
“With this choice, the film’s director, producers, and distributor, the Festival de Cannes, and by extension, all the French cinema, mark their solidarity with the Ukrainian people,” the festival’s organizers said in a statement addressing the name change.
“Final Cut” stars Bérénice Bejo, Hazanavicius’s frequent collaborator (and his wife). Their previous films together include “OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies,” “The Artist” and “The Search.” Their daughter Simone also appears in “Final Cut.”
“Final Cut” was originally slated to premiere at Sundance Film Festival in January. But, then, the Omicron coronavirus variant was surging, and so it was announced that Sundance’s planned in-person screenings would be swapped for virtual ones. “We believe that it is best to premiere ‘Final Cut’ in a theater with a live audience,” Hazanavicius said in a statement, “and have made the difficult decision to remove the film from this year’s festival.”