Lars von Trier Banned from Cannes Film Festival for Nazi Statements

May 19, 2011

Lars von Trier

Oh boy, this is very big news. After the premiere of his latest film Melancholia at the Cannes Film Festival just yesterday (read my review), controversial Danish director Lars von Trier settled in to a room full of international press for a press conference. He's always been known to give wild answers and say crazy things, but von Trier made a statement this time that went a little too far. Answering a question, he said that he found out he was a Nazi and sympathized with Hitler. At first, Cannes retaliated by issuing an official apology on behalf of von Trier. But pressure has caused them to officially ban him, effective immediately.

I've attached the video of the press conference below for those who wish to watch, but don't go off too much on him, because word is that he just made a giant gaffe with his answer and he even knew it (just look at his face). Cannes issued a press release this afternoon stating that 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." Persona non grata is Latin for "an unwelcome person", or rather the nicer Cannes way of saying that he's now banned from the festival, most likely for life, because of these disreputable statements.

Cannes continues: "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." Ouch. This is going to be rough on von Trier, who was already a very depressed guy. At the press conference for Antichrist a few years ago, von Trier made headlines again by proclaiming he was the "best director in the world." This time his oddball statements went a little too far and may have destroyed his career. This news will definitely make headlines around the world and he might never recover.

Lars von Trier has been premiering films at the Cannes Film Festival since 1984, and 11 of his films have been included in the official selection over the years. He also won the Palme d'Or in 2000 for Dancer in the Dark, and Grand Prix in 1996 for Breaking the Waves. Up until today, von Trier was a festival regular, and can still be considered a great filmmaker. This news is definitely going to be talked about for a very long time and I'm not even sure Melancholia will be released anymore. I certainly do not agree with his statements about Hitler or the Nazis, but this entire situation seems quite overblown. I wasn't at the press conference, but you can watch it below. We'll keep you updated on the situation from Cannes as it develops.

Make what you will of his statements and this news. For all of our Cannes Film Festival coverage, click here.

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Reader Feedback - 59 Comments


woooooooooooowwwwwwwww. It makes me so upset when yet another of my favorite directors gets wrapped up in horrible scandals threatening their progression of their art. damn. but.....that was an incredibly stupid move on his part.

Voice of Reason on May 19, 2011


kirsten dunst looks like mike myers did when kayne west said george bush hates black people

Christof on May 19, 2011


Man many didn't get the joke especially in the film industry. Best to not joke around about that.

Dee on May 19, 2011


Lol, as if it was a joke!

Anonymous on May 19, 2011


I think he's making an insightful commentary on society's political correctness fear - if not that, surely a reaction to historical politeness is enviably refreshing - you will see the point if you wait

Opielisa on Jun 20, 2011


What horrible scandal?? He made a bad joke and all that fuss is just stupid.

Mocca on May 19, 2011


 It was a horrible joke as far as intent and context. Scandal means "an action or event regarded as morally or legally wrong and causing general public outrage." Tell me again how that statement doesn't apply?

Voice of Reason on May 19, 2011


 It's obvious in the clip that he is being sarcastic, but it's also something that he should have never said.

Sean Kelly on May 19, 2011


Good film-maker or otherwise I find it very difficuilt to feel sorry for someone who sympathises with Hitler. Stupid stupid man.. imo deserves all he gets for saying it. Gaffe or not, There are some things normal sane people just shouldn't say. 

Geo on May 19, 2011


This is such a fail from von Trier. Joke? There's no joke here, just some standup wannabe attempts.. "There will come a point at the end of this"...? Ok Lars, where is it? Oh wait there it is - fail. That's the point. I thought this guy was something more then that 🙁

Anonymous on May 19, 2011


Oh come on! He was obviously joking. And what was the question by the way? The pope was also a nazi and he's just admiting his roots here and trying not to make everything "black and white". I can easily see how taking some of his sentences out of context are gonna make him sound bad, which is obviously what journalists are gonna do, they always love a good controversy. And to ban him: my God! What a bunch of hypocrites! Just shows how oversensitive people are. I think they're the racists because they'll hang on to that faux politically correct attitude of theirs when it's human nature to be xenophobic and that's what he's really admiting here. That he understands, nothing more nothing less. He's not saying it's a good thing and he obviously can't express himself very well (or as he would like to) in English since. Also remember every country has their own sense of humor.  And aren't you a bit negative by saying his career is destroyed? He's an excellent filmmaker his art is what matters in the end.

Davide Coppola on May 19, 2011


I am sure his English is fine but when you start to get stressed or nervous a lot of people start to fumble on words in their second language. Seems like just a bad joke or analogy gone wrong. It is unfortunate he has been banned. You really should look at the intentions instead of just the words. He made a dumb mistake but overreacting and being all offended just represents a sad state of the world and media. Everyone acts like they have a right to not be offended. Honestly, who cares?

Kaim on May 19, 2011


 when will people learn not to touch the Hitler subject at ALL! Its going to go wrong, horribly wrong. Poor Kirsten Dunst - she looks SO uncomfortable!

am on May 19, 2011


I think it's time we stopped apologising for human savagery - accept it as part of our make-up - and move on

Opielisa on Jun 20, 2011


 I agree Am, it is dumb to touch on Hitler speak but at the same time it is so ridiculously overplayed as a social stigma. I mean, can we move on? Is it going to be year 2100 and people still have to tip toe around the topic?

Kaim on May 19, 2011


hej man, tarantino chewed the subject to the bare bone and it turned out gloriously amusing and funny, so it's not the subject but it's the man touching it that's the problem. and history only repeats itself because we do not learn from it, maybe you live in a place where Hitler was some mystical tyrant, terrorizing and killing people in some distant land, but he was not. I hope there will never come a time when someone says that they're nazi ant people will be cool with it, because it's just so cool to be cool about everything.

Anonymous on May 19, 2011


 Agree, but I think he got hammered over something not that big of a deal. I personally think he made a shitty poorly timed joke.

Johnny Neat on May 19, 2011


 wooow right of the bat that Kirsten dunsk? she looks hella confused 

kwame adansi on May 19, 2011


You're talking about in the video? Yes, that's her right next to him, as Dunst stars in his new film Melancholia.

Alex Billington on May 19, 2011


A shame he chose actress Dunst who publicly shuns in him with her holier-than-though-Americanness at his comments - one would think a film relationhip - actor/director - much more meaningful - spose these directors have fund their excesses sooner or later with Hollywood coercion

Opielisa on Jun 20, 2011


do you have the power of EARTH 

Anon on May 19, 2011


Cue the price is right bad prize sound bit. or the whomp whomp

cho on May 19, 2011


 Dear God, that was painful!

Chris_Hunter on May 19, 2011


Lars is nuts. He is also a really wonderful director. Whatever-- he'll be fine. 

Cracky on May 19, 2011


So is Roman Polanski banned from Cannes? I don't think so. This is absolutely ridiculous. When did we forget what it means to be adults, listen, and not jump into "political correctness."

CisforCinema on May 19, 2011


I'll have what she's having. Well said Cate.

Xerxexx on May 20, 2011


Idiot ! 

Ken7eleven on May 19, 2011


Without getting into the obvious of it all being just not the right thing to say, I feel after watching this that he was joking for the most part. A badly timed joke at that but still, whatever man. The guy directs movies and has skill, now let's move on. I'd say if you're going to ban him for a shitty joke why not Woody Allen for his inappropriate indiscretions and or Roman Polanski for his sexual abuse case?

Johnny Neat on May 19, 2011


No, Ken7eleven; The idiots are the people who don't understand the importance of free speech (apparently this includes you). Hitchens summed it up fantastically:

ZZZ on May 19, 2011


Man watching him keep going and keep going  I kept thinking shut up your cutting your own throat and he kept going   

Califbamaguy on May 19, 2011


As a fellow idiot I have made my mistakes when I try to make jokes that have an actual point so I sympathize with him...for Von Trier guys! Not Hitler! Though I could see...oh crap I am gonna be banned from Firstshowing, aren't I?

Maxx on May 19, 2011


 Free speech are for those who only say what we want them to say. 

Loser on May 19, 2011


BOOM. I agree. We should not attempt to sanitize history. Things happen and people have viewpoints. Get over it. If I am labeled as a Nazi sympathizer because I believe people should be allowed to say what they want then so be it. People need to grow up and not become vehemently hysterical when the words "Hitler" or "Nazi" are brought up. No one would whine if he would have replaced it with Attila the Hun or Pope Paul III.  

Tyler Morgan on May 19, 2011


That's stupid. Hollywood is filled with idiots saying stupid things. Is this because of the Jews running Hollywood?

Sarnoff on May 19, 2011


It's quite sad how people are jumping to conclusions on this. His statement was, "I sympathize with Hitler...I feel like I understand him...Not that he was a good guy." Why is there a fuss? He didn't say, "I support the holocaust and understand why it was carried out...I support oppressive fascists governments..." On a personal level he could like Hitler. Is that for anyone else to judge? Catholics still support their child abusing cardinals and most people look the other way. Grow up people. You can't have a middle school, blinders-on, absolutist mindset your whole life.

Tyler Morgan on May 19, 2011


I couldn't agree more with both your comments. On another note, I find it amusing that if von Trier had issued the same comment about appreciating Stalin and being a hardcore communist, no-one would even have flinched. Considering what a lovely chap Stalin was, I can't help but find that this whole affair is completely overblown, biased and laughable.

daveeed on May 24, 2011


It's depressing and exhausting to behold a news cycle that depends less on actual events and more on extending the isolated statements of famous people into a few days of "controversy".  Cannes' reaction to this is short-sighted and inane: grandstanding and pretending a badly worded artistic ramble is a totally autobiographical statement of evil.  This is profoundly silly.

Concourse D on May 19, 2011


I don't get it. Was he just saying something he didn't actually believe as a joke, or is it actually true and he's just sorry for saying it out loud?  Because those are two very different things.

DRM on May 19, 2011


The clip posted here is a small fraction taken out of context. To get a complete impression of the whole interview session, here's a link to the whole thing: Make up your own mind.

NW on May 19, 2011


At a press conference today, Lars Von Trier expressed how sorry he was for his previous comments. He said that he considered the Holocaust as the most horrific crime ever committed in the history of man. He also said that he himself carries a Jewish name, as does all of his own children. He explained that his comments were a extremely poor and misplaced attempt of distinct (danish)humor.

NW on May 19, 2011


I still like his movies. 

Angry Chief on May 19, 2011


Lol, that's going too far. He was obviously ironic, and he apologized. And this is an extremely intelligent person who maybe was a bit tasteless in his jokes, but he certainly knew the seriousness of it. But this is supposed to be a film festival, and not a political forum!  Gosh, I'm sure all of this is because he mentioned Israel... (you know I'm right)

AC on May 19, 2011


Heil Hitler! 

Guest on May 20, 2011


 I like that Von Trier threw Mel Gibson's name out in his response to the comments he made...assface. People are putting too much weight on a jumble of words.

Xerxexx on May 20, 2011


They probably shouldn't have banned him, just made him wear a big dunce hat that has "I TRY TOO HARD" written on it. Because on the real, that's how the whole statement came off to me. Lars Von Trier has this crazyman/badass mythology that he constantly pushes, and I imagine being banned from Cannes will just reinforce whatever crap he is trying to pull. Dogville is still a masterpeice, but this shit is laughable. 

Lebowski on May 20, 2011


I'd like to be the rock Kirsten Dunst wanted to crawl under. 

Rocky Williams on May 20, 2011


He said that Hitler did some "bad things"... Is killing more than 6 million people only "a bad thing"? No it's called The Holocaust. 

Bymyself on May 20, 2011


I've watched it a couple times now and I'm honestly not seeing any sarcasm at all. I'm baffled why the majority of people here on FS are defending him.

mrtibbs on May 20, 2011


I agree.  Nowadays people can get away with ANYTHING under the guise of "free speech", just like the Supreme Court defending the Westboro wackos that scream "faggot" at funerals.

Boink on May 25, 2011


 I agree with mrtibbs. I believe certain topics have to be respected and the Holocaust is one of them. And I'm not even Jewish. 

Anonymous on May 20, 2011


 Some fairness this .. Ban this man for making stupid jokes but celebrate and welcome a child-drugging-rapist like Polanski.  Well done .. whoever it is running this clown show at Cannes !

Anonymous on May 20, 2011


Roman Polanski should be in prison and this guy should be has nothing to do with the other.

Boink on May 25, 2011


There are many post here from people that don't get it. "He was just joking. Lighten up." Joking or not, how is it not obvious that this is a subject you don't joke about at all? 

jjboldt on May 21, 2011


 Okay, I am not a muslim but isn't this similar to the cartoon drawings of prophet Muhammad ? The liberals in the West call them too touchy, what is this then ? If somethings ought to be off-limit then why not Muhammad's caricature ? Who gets to decide what is off-limit and what is not.. the Americans ? the Jews ? .. nobody.  Either everything is permissible or nothing is. The moment you start getting selectively liberal about humor there is no end to the hypocrisy that would begin to breed

Anonymous on May 21, 2011


 I completely agree with you RW

Maxx on May 22, 2011


You comparing a caricature of Muhammad to the extermination of millions of Jews is not only ridiculous, but morally wrong.

JRA on May 25, 2011


Why ? If jokes about holocaust are so offensive to the western sensibilities and should be avoided why are Muhammad cartoons encouraged when it offends millions across the world ? PS: I am against the killing of ANY human or animal for that matter, I do NOT condone the holocaust and there would be few who would support Israel's cause more than me. Where is that freedom of speech now ? Or is this an exception to it ? If it is, what is the basis ? Polanski's Jewish faith or connections and von Trier's lack of one or both ?

Anonymous on May 26, 2011


You said it... You can't unsay it.

Rogue627 on May 24, 2011


Hey we all make mistakes just glad they are not as public.

Pilgrim_UK on Oct 5, 2011

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