Von Trier Banned From Cannes
January 9, 2012 by staff
Von Trier Banned From Cannes, Cannes film festival organisers have banned Lars von Trier from their event after he caused a furore by joking about being a Nazi at a press conference to promote his new film, Melancholia.
Production year: 2011
Country: Rest of the world
Cert (UK): 15
Runtime: 130 mins
Directors: Lars von Trier
Cast: Alexander Skarsgard, Brady Corbet, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Charlotte Rampling, John Hurt, Kiefer Sutherland, Kirsten Dunst, Stellan Skarsgard
More on this film
The Cannes board of directors declared the Danish director, formerly a festival favourite as much for his outspoken persona as his taboo-breaking films, “persona non grata, with effect immediately” following a bizarre performance in front of the media on Wednesday when he declared he had sympathy for Adolf Hitler.
“Cannes provides artists with an exceptional forum to present their works and defend freedom of expression and creation,” the board said in a statement. “We profoundly regret[s] 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.”
Von Trier’s offending words came in response to a question about his German roots. Seemingly joking, Von Trier announced himself to be a Nazi, after expressing sadness that he hadn’t been born Jewish. As the atmosphere became increasingly tense, and Melancholia stars such as Kirsten Dunst sought to staunch his flow, Von Trier continued: “What can I say? I understand Hitler. He did some wrong things, absolutely, but I can see him sitting there in his bunker at the end … I sympathise with him, yes, a little bit.”
The festival organisers subsequently issued a statement saying they had asked the director for an explanation. This followed an hour later, when Von Trier said: “If I have hurt someone this morning by the words I said at the press conference, I sincerely apologise. I am not antisemitic or racially prejudiced in any way, nor am I a Nazi.” But his contrition does not appear to have been sufficient for the board, headed by president Gilles Jacob, to whom the matter was referred.
The ban appears to be a personal one: Melancholia is still in contention for all awards, including the festival’s most prestigious, the Palme d’Or, which Von Trier won in 2000 with his film Dancer in the Dark. But should Von Trier triumph, he will not be welcome at Sunday’s ceremony to pick it up. All press engagements to promote Melancholia have been cancelled, and it remains uncertain whether the cast and crew would boycott the rest of the festival in protest.
Extended version of Lars von Trier’s Nazi ramble Link to this video
The Guardian’s film critic, Peter Bradshaw, a prize juror on this year’s Un Certain Regard sidebar, applauded the decision to blame the director himself “rather than his blameless and dull film â€¦ that way there is no suggestion of censorship”, and urged Von Trier to make “a real apology, and not the smirking tongue-in-cheek one that made things subtly worse”.
The nature of Von Trier’s reaction to the ban was unclear. Thierry Fremaux, the festival director, said Von Trier told festival officials that he “accepts the punishment”. “He’s upset by this matter,” Fremaux said. “He recognised that the festival had to take a firm position in regards to his comments.”
But the Danish tabloid Ekstra Bladet quoted Von Trier as saying: “I’m proud to have been declared persona non grata. This is maybe the first time in film history that has happened.
“I think one of the reasons is that the French themselves treated the Jews badly during the second world war. Therefore it is a touchy subject for them. I highly respect the Cannes festival, but I also understand that they are very angry with me right now. I’m no Mel Gibson, but once again I would like to say sorry everybody.”
Despite near-universal condemnation for Von Trier’s outburst at the time, the board’s decision has met with widespread bafflement in Cannes. Lee Marshall, critic for trade paper Screen International, expressed sceptisicm about the timing of the ban. “Von Trier’s initial apology should have been enough. That it wasn’t suggests to me that this was political.” Time Out’s film editor, Dave Calhoun, admitted to feeling as uncomfortable about the festival’s actions as Von Trier’s ill-advised words. “Cannes is an open cultural forum and most people I speak to at the festival agree that his comments were hugely open to interpretation and not coherent enough to form any kind of proper argument or clear opinion. The festival has played judge and jury when it would have been wiser to allow the public, the press and anyone else to decide for themselves.”
With delegates from the world’s media congregated and eager for controversy, it looks increasingly unlikely the board’s ban will have quite the intended effect. Guy Lodge, from awards site In Contention, suggests it may even give Von Trier career a useful boost, especially following lukewarm reviews for Melancholia itself. “This just amounts to fighting stupidity with stupidity – not to mention a little hypocrisy, when Mel Gibson was given the red-carpet treatment only a few days ago. Von Trier will be fine: I’m sure the ever more competitive Venice film festival will be happy to house his future works. If anything, this just proves his remarkable ability to remain the centre of attention.”
Please feel free to send if you have any questions regarding this post , you can contact on
Disclaimer: The views expressed on this site are that of the authors and not necessarily that of U.S.S.POST.