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Lars von Trier banned from Cannes Film Festival after 'Nazi' comments

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05/19/2011 by Corinne Heller

Lars von Trier has been banned from the 2011 Cannes Film Festival after he declared at an event to promote his new film that he is a Nazi and sympathizes with Adolf Hitler.

The Danish director has apologized for his remarks and upon hearing about his ban, reiterated that his comments were made in jest and added that he was "no Mel Gibson."

"The board of directors 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," organizers said in a statement published by the Hollywood Reporter on Thursday, May 19.

"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," the statement said

Von Trier made his comments on Wednesday at an event to promote "Melancholia," which stars Kirsten Dunst and features her appearing in a nude scene.

"I really wanted to be a Jew, and then I found out that I was really a Nazi, because, you know, my family was German," he had said. "Which also gave me some pleasure."

"What can I say? I understand Hitler, but I think he did some wrong things, yes, absolutely," he added. "But I can see him sitting in his bunker in the end. He's not what you would call a good guy, but I understand much about him, and I sympathize with him a little bit. But come on, I'm not for the Second World War, and I'm not against Jews."

Von Trier later apologized and Dunst, who sat near him and appeared shocked when he made his remarks, said the director "likes to run his mouth."

"What I said was completely stupid but I am absolutely no Mel Gibson," von Trier told the Hollywood Reporter after hearing he was banned from the Cannes Film Festival, referring to Gibson's anti-Semitic tirade made during his 2006 arrest for drunk driving.

"What I meant was I could imagine what it was like for Hitler in the bunker, making plans. Not that I would do what Hitler did," von Trier said. "But it's a pity if it means I will lose contact with Cannes."

He added that his stepfather is Jewish and that he grew up thinking he had Jewish roots, adding: "I have to say I'm a little proud of being named a persona non grata. I think my family would be proud. I have a French order. Now they will likely tear it off my chest."

More than six million Jews died in the Nazi Holocaust spearheaded by Hitler during World War II, which ran between 1939 and 1945.

"I am very much for Jews," von Trier said on Wednesday. "No, not too much, because Israel is a pain in the (expletive) ... How can I get out of this sentence? OK, I'm a Nazi."

When asked if he would like to do a film on a larger scale, Von Trier told the accidence: "Yes. We Nazis like to do things on a big scale. Maybe I could do 'The Final Solution.'"

Later on Wednesday, the director said in a statement carried by the Reuters news wire: "If I have hurt someone this morning by the words I said at the press conference, I sincerely apologize. I am not anti-Semitic or racially prejudiced in any way, nor am I a Nazi."

He also told the the Associated Press: "I don't have so much to say, so I kind of have to improvise a little and just to let the feelings I have kind of come out into words. This whole Nazi thing, I don't know where it came from, but you spend a lot of time in Germany, you sometimes want to feel a little free and just talk about this (expletive), you know?"

Von Trier is also known for his 2000 drama "Dancer in the Dark." In "Melancholia," which also stars Kiefer Sutherland, Dunst plays a depressed woman whose relationship with her sister (Gainsbourg) is challenged as a nearby planet threatens to collide with Earth. The movie earned "polite applause" after a screening at Cannes, the Associated Press said.

Check out a video of Lar von Trier making his Nazi" comments at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, as recorded by the UK newspaper The Telegraph:

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