Polite but mild applause greeted the Antichrist team — director Lars Von Trier, stars Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg — as they walked into the Salle de Presse at 12:35 pm, or about 75 minutes ago. But then someone yelled “boo!” Dafoe and Von Trier, as you can see, chuckled at this. And then once the photos had been taken and everyone was settled, Daly Mail columnist Baz Bamigboye asked the first question, which was fairly hostile.
“Why did you make this movie?” he said, clearly outraged. Von Trier, Dafoe and Gainsbourg all gave Bamnibgoye, who was standing on the right side of the room, quizzical “what’s up with this guy?” looks. “I don’t feel I have to explain myself,” Von Trier said. “Yes, you do!,” Bamigboye sternly replied. “Yes, you do. You’ve come here to Cannes, the festival; has chosen it, we’ve all seen it…and I think you have an obligation to explain why you made it.” Von Trier again demurred, sidestepped, shook it off.
That was the only confrontational moment. All questions in all press conferences tend to be asked in an extra-polite, deferential, obliquely phrased vein, and this one was no exception. There was some humorous quips from Von Trier (“I am the world’s best director”), some laughter from the crowd, and very little in the way of soul-baring. Dafoe said Von Trier was “a great director” and was quickly corrected by Von Trier saying “the greatest” (or words to that effect).
If you hadn’t seen Antichrist you would have had the impression from the questions and answers that it was, all right, shocking or challenging and yes, clearly disliked in some quarters, but a film that could or should be regarded with perhaps a certain whimsy or even (with an accommodating pro-Lars attitude) as a harmless cinematic diversion — a “dream,” a work of pure imagination.