The Board of Directors at Cannes has officially declared filmmaker Lars von Trier a “persona non grata” at Cannes after he made some bizarre and offensive comments calling Israel a “pain in the ass” and saying he “sympathizes” with Nazis.
Von Trier has since apologized for the statements, but he originally said:
“I thought I was a Jew for a long time and was very happy being a Jew… But it turned out I was not a Jew, but even if I’d been a Jew I would be kind of a second-rate Jew because there is kind of a hierarchy in the Jewish population… What can I say? I understand Hitler. I think he did some wrong things, yes absolutely, but I can see him sitting in his bunker in the end… I think I understand the man. He’s not what you would call a good guy, but I understand much about him and I sympathize with him a little bit. But come on, I’m not for the Second World War, and I’m not against Jews.”
Von Trier continued:
“Okay, I am a Nazi… I am of course very much for Jews. No, not too much because Israel is a pain in the ass. But still, how can I get out of this sentence?”
The Cannes Board of Directors was not impressed by the speech, and issued this statement:
“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.
“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.”
His film, Melancholia, will still be eligible to win awards, but the filmmaker is barred from actually accepting them at the festival.