BREAKING: The Cannes Film Festival organizers are taking very seriously the comments made yesterday by director Lars von Trier during the press conference to introduce his film Melancholia. While Deadline termed him Biggest Douchebag after he made a tepid …
Cannes has never been a place to shy away from politics. It’s not enough that official competition entry Melancholia’s director Lars von Trier stirred things up Wednesday by singling out Hitler and Nazis for his admiration, forcing the festival to ask for an apology. The last couple of days have also seen presidential politics creep into the fest lineup in a very prominent way with eyebrow-raising equal-opportunity disses thrown at President Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy in two very different films screening in the official selection.
Before the Festival began May 11, we reported rampant rumors that Sarkozy might be attending the Cannes kickoff since his wife, Carla Bruni, was appearing in the opening-night film, Midnight In Paris. As it turned out, neither showed on the red carpet, but Wednesday Sarkozy finally made his debut in Cannes — sort of. The night’s main event, an out-of-competition premiere showing of The Conquest, launched the nationwide start of what can only be described as a French Primary Colors (a veiled story of Bill Clinton). Unlike that movie, this one, about Sarkozy’s rise to power, was not even thinly disguised, using real names and actors who look exactly like the real-life players. Sarkozy cannot be very happy with this portrait, which paints him as a master manipulator who was dumped by his wife of 20 years and then participates in a charade to convince voters he is still happily married in order to get elected – even though the “future” First Lady has shacked up with another guy. It may be tres scandalous but it is also very entertaining, surprisingly one of the best times I have had in the Palais the entire festival.
CANNES UPDATE: Lars Von Trier Apologizes After Saying During Press Conference That He’s A Nazi And Sympathizes With Hitler “A Bit”
UPDATE: 9:30 AM: Now director Lars von Trier has issued an apology: “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.”
PREVIOUS, 9:05 AM: The Cannes Film Festival has just issued a press release saying it was disturbed by von Trier’s comments and asked for an explanation from the Danish director, who it said has apologized.
The Festival de Cannes was disturbed about the statements made by Lars von Trier in his press conference this morning in Cannes. Therefore the Festival asked him to provide an explanation for his comments.
The director states that he let himself be egged on by a provocation. He presents his apology.
The direction of the Festival acknowledges this and is passing on Lars von Trier’s apology. The Festival is adamant that it would never allow the event to become the forum for such pronouncements on such subjects.
PREVIOUS, 6:31 AM: As usual, you can leave it to Danish director Lars von Trier to make waves. But now enough may be enough. Participating in the Cannes Film Festival for the 11th time,
the controversial helmer set more than a few mouths agape at a press conference following the 8:30 AM press screening of his latest opus, Melancholia. Because, asked at one point about his German roots — though he was actually born in Copenhagen in 1956 — he jumped right in with the kind of “Is he putting us on or what?” abandon he is known for:
“For a long time I was a Jew and I was happy to be a Jew, then I met Susanne Bier [fellow Danish director and this year's Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film] and I wasn’t so happy. But then I found out I was actually a Nazi. My family was German. That also gave me pleasure. What can I say? I understand Hitler. I sympathize with him a bit.”
Then, in the spirit of Mel Gibson, who wisely skipped The Beaver press conference yesterday, thereby dodging bullets of this type that come up from a room full of international press, von Trier kept on going:
“I don’t mean I’m in favor of World War II and I’m not against Jews, not even Susanne Bier. In fact I’m very much in favor of them. All Jews. Well, Israel is a pain in the ass [pause] … How can I get out of this sentence? OK, I’m a Nazi.”