The Cannes Film Festival Board of Directors has just issued a statement that not only condemns Melancholia director Lars von Trier for his put-on “I’m a Nazi” comment at yesterday’s press conference, but declares that he’s officially been shunned.
“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 statement reads. “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.”
Well, Von Trier obviously touched a highly explosive nerve, and the Cannes team is politically obliged to say something admonishing. But this is such an over-reaction I don’t know where to begin.
Lars von Trier has, press conference-wise, often played the role of a provocateur, a kidder — he loves to poke and agitate and whip the press into a lather. Nazi-winking, even in jest, in a huge no-no, of course, but we all know that Von Trier is a serious artist and a humanitarian who, despite his impishness, has time and again made films that see through to the sad soul of things. Due respect to the Cannes team, but this is excessive. They’re swatting a fly with a double-barrelled shotgun.
Von Trier apologized for his remark yesterday, saying that “if I have hurt someone this morning by the words I said at the press conference, I sincerely apologize. I am not antisemitic or racially prejudiced in any way, nor am I a Nazi.” What more can he say?
I’m not presuming that the Cannes Board of Directors intend to ban Von Trier from the festival indefinitely, but it seems a safe bet that Melancholia hasn’t a chance of winning the Palme d’Or now. Unless the jury feels as I do and gives it to him anyway. Not likely, I’m guessing.
If any journalists and filmmakers want to sign a petition saying this whole simple-brained scandal has been inflated past the point of reason and perception and make it public, I’ll sign it and post it.
Glenn Kenny tweet: “So I assume today it’s gonna be May ’68 all over again, with Kohn and Longworth and various unnameables manning the barricades? Oui, non?”
JHoffman6 tweet: “BREAKING: Cannes organizers ban Von Trier for sympathizing with Hitler. Also, they ban their grandparents.”