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Leica in the Media
1969 02 26
Z is a 1969 political thriller film directed by Costa-Gavras, from a screenplay he co-wrote with Jorge Semprún, adapted from the 1967 novel of the same name by Vassilis Vassilikos. The film presents a thinly fictionalized account of the events surrounding the assassination of the democratic Greek politician Grigoris Lambrakis in 1963. With its dark view of Greek politics and its downbeat ending, the film captures the director's outrage about the junta that then ruled Greece. The title refers to a popular Greek protest slogan (Greek: Ζει, IPA: [ˈzi]) meaning "he lives," in reference to Lambrakis.
A French and Algerian co-production, the film stars Jean-Louis Trintignant as the investigating magistrate, an analogue of Christos Sartzetakis, who would become the Greek president from 1985 to 1990. International stars Yves Montand and Irene Papas also appear, but despite their star billing, they have very little screen time. Jacques Perrin, who also produced the film, plays a key role as a photojournalist. Other actors in the film include Pierre Dux, Charles Denner, François Périer, Georges Géret and Bernard Fresson. The musical score was composed by Mikis Theodorakis.
Z was the first film and one of only a handful to be nominated by the Academy Awards for both Best Picture and Best Foreign Language Film. It won the latter as well as the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, the BAFTA Award for Best Film Music and the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Film. At the 27th Golden Globe Awards, its producers refused the award to protest the film's exclusion from the Best Motion Picture – Drama category.
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