The film was initially given a more academic title, “The Anatomy of a Political Assassination,” but was later changed to Z.
The Deputy (Yves Montand)
The Examining Magistrate (Jen-Louis Trintignant)
Helene, the Deputy’s Wife (Irene Papas)
Photojournalist (Jacques Perrin)
Manuel (Charles Denner)
Public Prosecutor (Francois Perrier)
The General (Pierre Dux)
The Colonel (Julien Guiomar)
Matt (Bernard Fresson)
Yago (Renato Salvatori)
Ever since the establishment of the Best Foreign-Language Picture, only a few foreign movies have been nominated for the main category, the Best Picture Oscar. A French-Algerian co-production starring Yves Montand and Jean Louis Trintignant, Z enjoyed a special position in 1969.
“Z” won the Best Foreign Language Picture and it was also nominated in the general competitive category of Best Picture. According to Academy rules, foreign pictures that have opened in the U.S. are eligible to compete in all the other categories. Thus, “Z” also won an Oscar for its editor, Francoise Bonnot.
To qualify for Foreign-Language Picture, however, a film must be sent by its country of origin to the Academy, where a committee selects the five nominees. “Z” qualified on both grounds: It was officially submitted as Algeria’s entry, and it opened in the U.S. in December.
Z illustrates the power of film as an agency of social change, one that can inform, encouraging us as ordinary citizens to open our eyes, to become political active, to fight for justice and change.
The broader political contexts, both American and international, is crucial for understating the reception and impact of the film. It was released in a highly politicized time, during the painful and divisive Vietnam War and Anti-War Movement.
Internationally, it was just after the Israeli Six Day War, in June 1967, and the Cultural Revolution in China, and the Czech Uprising.