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Lars von Trier Banned From Cannes, Which He’s “A Little Proud” Of; Gives Brief Apology For Comments

Written by on May 19, 2011 

Even though he was obviously joking, the Cannes Film Festival doesn’t seem to be amused with Lars von Trier‘s statements yesterday, which included him saying that he was a Nazi, and that he “understands Hitler.” According to /Film, the festival’s Board of Directors announced today that the filmmaker is now “persona non grata, with effect immediately,” which basically means that he’s banned from the rest of this year’s event, including any awards ceremonies in which his own film could be awarded.

If that extends to subsequent festivals hasn’t been clarified, but it at least signifies that they’re not amused by his – again, clearly satirical – statements. They said that his statements are “unacceptable, intolerable, and contrary to the ideals of humanity and generosity that preside over the very existence of the Festival.” Keep in mind that these are the same people who gave a standing ovation to Mel Gibson, but who really needs consistency?

He already apologized for the remarks, but people keep hounding him about them, anyway. Speaking to both Time Out Chicago and The LA Times (via ThePlaylist), he said that the Holocaust is “the worst crime in human history,” and that his comments were “very sarcastic and very rude, but that’s very Danish,” also adding that he doesn’t “sympathize with Hitler for one second.”

He’s not entirely keen on giving a straight apology, though, as he said the following:

“All apologies to me are nonsense. It’s saying ‘I did something wrong,’ but what does that help? I think it makes the whole situation much worse… It’s something called damage control.”

I have to say that I actually respect his refusal to give an apology for making an off-color joke, which is something that’s demanded far too often these days. Yes, it’s in bad taste, but they knew exactly what they were getting when they held the press conference in the first place.

Relating to that, he told THR that he was ” a little proud of” his Cannes ban, adding that he’s “absolutely no Mel Gibson.” He clarified his Hitler comments by saying that they related to the dictator’s final days, as he “could imagine what it was like for Hitler in the bunker, making plans.”

At the same time, he hopes that his statements won’t get him banned from the festival, and admitted that some people any not want to work with him after such comments were made. The Argentine distributor of the movie has already said that they won’t be releasing it, but I wouldn’t be worried about this going much further. He also said that he isn’t concerned about the future of The Five Obstructions: Scorsese vs Trier, dropping the comment that Scorsese is “very open-minded.”

Still, it’s unfortunate that a dumb joke has led to such a headache for von Trier. It seems unfair that Mel Gibson, an anti-Semitic, misogynistic racist could get a standing ovation for his own movie, but humor gets someone else banned. If anything, this whole situation has made me lose some respect for the people who run Cannes, and I think that’s something that he would laugh about.

Do you think it’s fair for von Trier to be banned from Cannes? What do you think of his follow-up comments?

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