Just a day after making controversial remarks in which he claimed to be a Nazi and appeared to sympathize with reviled Third Reich leader Adolf Hitler, Danish director Lars von Trier has been condemned by the Cannes Film Festival and banned from the annual European awards fest.
After getting mostly positive reviews for his new Kirsten Dunst-starring film, “Melancholia,” the provocative director earned strong condemnation for a rambling, offensive press conference on Wednesday in which he made odd remarks about his thoughts on Hitler, Israel and being a Nazi.
“The Festival de Cannes provides artists from around the world with an exceptional forum to present their works and defend freedom of expression and creation. The festival’s Board of Directors, which held an extraordinary meeting this Thursday, 19 May 2011, profoundly regrets that this forum has been used by Lars von Trier to express comments that are unacceptable, intolerable and contrary to the ideals of humanity and generosity that preside over the very existence of the festival,” read a statement from the festival released on Thursday (May 19).
“The Board of Directors firmly condemns these comments and declares Lars von Trier a persona non grata at the Festival de Cannes, with effect immediately.”
The unprecedented move of banning the director, whose Björk-starring “Dancer in the Dark” took the festival’s top prize in 2000, did not, however, appear to mean that Von Trier’s movie was being booted from contention. According to The Associated Press, the statement did not specify whether “Melancholia” had been pulled from competition for prizes, which will be handed out at Sunday’s closing ceremony.
“The only thing I can tell you is that I thought I was a Jew for a long time and was very happy being a Jew … but it turned out that I was not a Jew. If I’d been a Jew, then I would be a second-wave Jew, a kind of a new-wave Jew, but anyway, I really wanted to be a Jew and then I found out that I was really a Nazi, because my family is German,” Von Trier said to a stunned audience on Wednesday, with Dunst sitting silently by his side. “And that also gave me some pleasure. So, I, what can I say? I understand Hitler. I think he did some wrong things but I can see him sitting in his bunker. I’m saying that I think I understand the man. He is not what we could call a good guy, but yeah, I understand much about him and I sympathize with him.”
He later claimed to be joking, but the damage had been done.
Von Trier released a tepid apology a short time later, saying he was sorry if he “hurt someone” with his remarks and said he is not anti-Semitic or racially prejudiced and is not, in fact, a Nazi.