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Lars von Trier to face charges over 'Nazi' and 'Hitler' remarks?

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10/06/2011 by Corinne Heller

Director Lars von Trier, who was banned from the 2011 Cannes Film Festival earlier this year after he declared he is a Nazi and sympathizes with Adolf Hitler, says he was questioned by police about his remarks and added that he has decided to "refrain from all public statements and interviews."

He had made his comments to reporters during a press conference to promote his new R-rated sci-fi drama film "Melancholia," as he sat near his leading actress, Kirsten Dunst, who looked shocked.

Von Trier later apologized. Organizers called his remarks "intolerable" and banned him from the festival. He then reiterated that his comments were made in jest and added that he was "no Mel Gibson."

In a statement published by news outlets such as the Los Angeles Times, he said that he was recently questioned by police in his native Denmark "in connection with charges made by the prosecution of Grasse in France from August 2011 regarding a possible violation of prohibition in French law against justification of war crimes. The investigation covers comments made during the press conference in Cannes in May 2011."

"Due to these serious accusations, I have realized that I do not possess the skills to express myself unequivocally and I have therefore decided from this day forth to refrain from all public statements and interviews," he said.

A French prosecutor told the French news wire Agence France-Presse that von Trier has not yet been charged, although French authorities have been in contact with their Danish counterparts regarding the director's remarks.

"We are not staying with our arms crossed after what he said at the Cannes Film Festival," the news wire quoted the prosecutor as saying. "In this case, they can prosecute, just as we can prosecute. My decision has not been made. If the Danish say that have the ability, we will not prosecute."

France has laws forbidding hate speech. In September, a French court found designer John Galliano guilty of making anti-Semitic comments, which had gotten him fired as head designer of French fashion house Christian Dior, and was given a suspended fine of 6,000 euros.

"Melancholia" is set for release in the United States on Friday, October 7, and hit theaters in several European countries earlier this year. It focuses on two sisters who deal with an upcoming disaster - Earth is set to collide with a mysterious planet. It has already generated interest due to a nude scene by Dunst.

After von Trier made his controversial remarks, Dunst told the press the director "likes to run his mouth."

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