Z in memory
Gavras Coast Photo: Taken from Romain Dubois

One day the name of Costa Gavras appeared in a Havana cinema and seeing his film was an obligation for all those who did not want to miss the best of the seventh art.

As would happen in other parts of the world, the multi-award winning Z (1969) became a film to enjoy and decipher because its argument, based on a novel by Vassilis Vassilikos and with the Greek military dictatorship in the spotlight, was revealed as an effective denunciation without touching the high-sounding tones of the pamphlet, hovering around those times in a certain kind of political cinema.

A complaint of Z made without talking about the real protagonists or the real locations (it was filmed in Algeria), but with so many clues and symbolic force that the viewer felt gratified by the filmmaker’s imagination to expose the assassination plot against left-wing politician Grigoris Lambrakis, portrayed in the film as medical doctor Z, played by Yves Montand.

But who was this 36-year-old French-Greek director who combined satire and drama in a thriller breathless that few were content to see only once in theaters? Thus, newspapers and magazines in the country were filled with references to the Costa Gavras film and specialists even emerged, at the spectator level, capable of unraveling the veiled references of the story and the who’s who of its dynamic plot, while actors such as Jean-Louis Trintignant, Jacques Perrin –also a co-producer–, Renato Salvatori and Irene Papas became a daily theme of cinematographic passion, without forgetting the music of the great Mikis Theodorakis.

And to finish off with a flourish, and not a little irony, the list that, once the film was finished, gave an account of the prohibitions carried out by the Greek military junta. Among the most memorable, long hair for men, The Beatles, modern and popular music; prohibit, when referring to Sophocles, that it be said that he was homosexual; ban Leo Tolstoy, Aeschylus, Ionesco, Jean-Paul Sartre, Chekhov, Mark Twain, Samuel Beckett, sociology, encyclopedias, and freedom of the press. The letter Z, which appeared in the last image of the film as a symbolic reminder that “the spirit of resistance lives”, was also prohibited.

Z It quickly became a cult film, and made us Cubans aware of both the human, social and political profile of Costa Gavras, as well as the need to remain attentive to how much good was to come from him: Site status (1973), Missing (1982), Amen (2002) and others.


During the 23rd edition of the French Film Festival in Cuba, which will run until June 30 in theaters in the capital, Z It will be one of the four films by the Franco-Greek director that will be presented, especially during the course of the week that begins. the others are the rails of crime (1965), The confession (1970) and capital (2012).

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