Danish director Lars Von Trier has been banned from the Cannes Film Festival and declared “persona non grata” after telling a press conference he was a Nazi and could understand Hitler.
A statement from the festival’s organisers said they “profoundly” regretted the filmmaker’s remarks, which they described as “unacceptable, intolerable, and contrary to the ideals of humanity and generosity that preside over the very existence of the festival”.
It continued: “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.”
Von Trier apologised after yesterday's press conference.
The film-maker discussed Adolf Hitler, porn films and the drinking habits of some of his stars during the strange 40-minute session.
He was there to promote his film 'Melancholia', the story of two sisters, played by Charlotte Gainsbourg and Kirsten Dunst, and how they deal with the knowledge another planet is about to crash into Earth, destroying it.
Today’s statement does not make it clear whether the film will be withdrawn from competition for the festival’s Palme d’Or prize.
Von Trier, who was brought up believing he was Jewish until he discovered his biological father was a German Catholic, said yesterday: “I really wanted to be a Jew and then I found out I was really a Nazi, you know because my family was German.”
He went on to say he could “understand Hitler”, adding: “But come on, I’m not for the Second World War and I’m not against Jews.”
With Dunst looking increasingly uncomfortable at his answers, von Trier asked reporters: “How can I get out of this sentence?”
Referring to the holocaust, he also said his next project might be a “final solution” but only involving journalists.
He also said Israel was a “pain in the ass”.
The eccentric film-maker gave a series of rambling answers to questions including the admission there was a chance the film, which also stars Kiefer Sutherland and is in the running for the Palme d’Or, was “crap”.
He said: “Of course I hope not, but there’s quite a big possibility it’s really not worth seeing.”
Von Trier, who is well-known for including graphic sex scenes in his films, joked that Dunst had insisted his next film would be a “a porn film” and she would star in it alongside Gainsbourg.
He said: “It’s going to be three or four hours long and the only reason for that is the press conference will be a little later so I can sleep a little longer.”
He also said he had rejected the advice of a collaborator who warned him against putting too much nudity in his films and not to make “the mistake that many middle-aged directors, older directors, do that the women get younger and younger and more and more naked”.
He told reporters: “I said, ’Don’t say that to me’, so now I tell you they’re going to be naked and extremely young.”
The press conference ended with the usually unflappable host, French intellectual Henri Behar, saying it had been a “very, very strange” session.