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Cannes 2011 bans Lars von Trier

Lars von Trier declared himself a Nazi yesterday morning, not one by the afternoon, and then found himself banned from the festival that has screened nine of his films in competition. Not a good day at the office, really.

von Trier’s statement, “OK, I’m a Nazi,” came during a press conference for Melancholia, which screened in the main competition. The film isn’t banned from remaining in competition, but in the – now unlikely – event it wins anything its director won’t be accepting any prizes.

Following the press conference and the swift reporting of it, the festival issued a statement distancing itself from the director’s words and opinions and showing him the door.

With no sense of irony, the statement said:

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

before going on to ensure that von Trier wouldn’t be freely expressing any more views on festival turf. The statement concluded, “The Board of Directors … declares Lars von Trier a persona non grata at the Festival de Cannes, with effect immediately.

Overnight NZ time von Trier oscillated between the withdrawal of his claim to be a Nazi (“I am no Mel Gibson”) and a non-apology apology addressing people’s concern at his words but not the words themselves: “If I have hurt someone this morning by the words I said at the press conference, I sincerely apologize.”

For good measure he later stated he was “a little proud” of being banned, saying , “I think my family would be proud.”

Melancholia’s Argentinian distributor has already announced it will not release the film, despite having at its disposal a ready-made audience of aged Nazis. The Argentinians seem to have gone out on a limb, however, with no distributors from other territories following suit.

von Trier’s ill-fated press conference can be viewed here.

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