Director Lars von Trier, who caused an uproar at the Cannes Film Festival by declaring his admiration of Adolph Hitler, has been banned from the prestigious event, despite efforts to apologize for what he said were jokes.
The festivals organizers made a pronouncement of their own this morning (May 19) calling von Trier, “persona non grata” at Cannes, ending his participation in events.
The move is devastating to the controversial director because his film “Melancholia,” which stars Kirsten Dunst is being widely acclaimed at the festival, where it’s competing for the top prize.
Insiders say von Trier’s remarks all but make it impossible for the jury to give him the award.
Von Trier’s remarks were directed mainly at Danish rival director Susanne Bier, who is Jewish.
“I really wanted to be a Jew and then I found out that I was really a Nazi, because my family is German. And that also gave me some pleasure. So, I, what can I say? I understand Hitler,” he said in one of the remarks.
“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 added.
“But come on! I’m not for the Second World War. And I’m not against Jews. No, not even Susanne Bier. I am very much for them. As much as Israelis are a pain in the ass.”
He continued with the diatribe as the room grew from nervous laughter to extreme discomfort. Dunst, who was at his side looked bewildered and stunned.
Although Trier later apologized and supporters noted that he had wry, deadpan sense of humor, the Festival’s board of directors took unusually swift and strong action after holding an “extraordinary” meeting.
The board called the comments “unacceptable, intolerable, and contrary to the ideals of humanity and generosity that preside over the very existence of the Festival.”
While it said it the purpose of the festival dedicated to the freedom of artistic expression, the board “condemns these comments and declares Lars Von Trier a persona non grata at the Festival de Cannes, with effect immediately,” according to the statement.
“Melancholia’s” Argentine film distributor, Distribution Company SA, also canceled its contract with the studo and will not distribute the film in that country.