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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  • Voice of Reason
    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.
  • kirsten dunst looks like mike myers did when kayne west said george bush hates black people
  • Dee
    Man many didn't get the joke especially in the film industry. Best to not joke around about that.
    • Anonymous
      Lol, as if it was a joke!
    • Opielisa
      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
  • Mocca
    What horrible scandal?? He made a bad joke and all that fuss is just stupid.
    • Voice of Reason
       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?
  •  It's obvious in the clip that he is being sarcastic, but it's also something that he should have never said.
  • Geo
    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. 
  • Anonymous
    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 :(
  • 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.
  • Kaim
    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?
  • am
     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!
    • Opielisa
      I think it's time we stopped apologising for human savagery - accept it as part of our make-up - and move on
  • Kaim
     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?
    • Anonymous
      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.
      •  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.
  •  wooow right of the bat that Kirsten dunsk? she looks hella confused 
    • You're talking about in the video? Yes, that's her right next to him, as Dunst stars in his new film Melancholia.
      • Opielisa
        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
    • Anon
      do you have the power of EARTH 
  • cho
    Cue the price is right bad prize sound bit. or the whomp whomp
  •  Dear God, that was painful!
  • Cracky
    Lars is nuts. He is also a really wonderful director. Whatever-- he'll be fine. 
  • CisforCinema
    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."
    • Xerxexx
      I'll have what she's having. Well said Cate.
  • Ken7eleven
    Idiot ! 
  • 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?
  • ZZZ
    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:
  • Califbamaguy
    Man watching him keep going and keep going  I kept thinking shut up your cutting your own throat and he kept going   
  • Maxx
    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?
  • Loser
     Free speech are for those who only say what we want them to say. 
    • 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.  
  • Sarnoff
    That's stupid. Hollywood is filled with idiots saying stupid things. Is this because of the Jews running Hollywood?
  • 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.
    • daveeed
      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.
  • Concourse D
    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.
  • DRM
    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.
  • NW
    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
      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.
  • Angry Chief
    I still like his movies. 
  • AC
    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)
  • Guest
    Heil Hitler! 
  • Xerxexx
     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.
  • Lebowski
    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. 
  • Rocky Williams
    I'd like to be the rock Kirsten Dunst wanted to crawl under. 
  • Bymyself
    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. 
  • mrtibbs
    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.
    • Boink
      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.
  • Anonymous
     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
     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 !
    • Boink
      Roman Polanski should be in prison and this guy should be has nothing to do with the other.
  • jjboldt
    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? 
    • Anonymous
       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
      • Maxx
         I completely agree with you RW
      • JRA
        You comparing a caricature of Muhammad to the extermination of millions of Jews is not only ridiculous, but morally wrong.
        • Anonymous
          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 ?
  • Rogue627
    You said it... You can't unsay it.
  • Pilgrim_UK
    Hey we all make mistakes just glad they are not as public.




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