Cannes expels director for Hitler remark

The end

His comments angered Jewish groups and caused US actress Kirsten Dunst to squirm with embarrassment beside him at a press conference on Wednesday as he launched into a bizarre monologue about his Jewish and German heritage.

The 55-year-old, formerly a darling in Cannes who won the top Palme d’Or award in 2000, quickly apologised, but it proved too little too late.

“The board of directors firmly condemns these comments and declares Lars Von Trier persona non grata at the Festival de Cannes, with effect immediately,” organisers said in a statement on Thursday.

The American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants, which had complained after the remarks were first reported, welcomed Cannes’ decision to throw Von Trier out. “The organisers of the Cannes have eloquently taken a determined moral stand against cavalier expressions of hate and insensitivity to those brutalised by the Nazis — Jew and non-Jew,” said the group’s vice president, Elan Steinberg.

Did he mean it?

Among hundreds of movie-goers milling about in the Mediterranean sun outside the Grand Theater Lumiere, some questioned whether the famously provocative Von Trier really meant what he said.

“He did it out of pure provocation, which is very much like Trier who always pushes the envelope,” said Christophe Calmels, whose company Films Sans Frontieres distributes von Trier’s 2003 film The Five Obstructions.

“It’s not surprising (his expulsion), it’s what he had coming — just like Galliano,” he added, in reference to fashion designer John Galliano, who was recently sacked by Dior after footage surfaced of him making anti-Semitic comments in Paris.

“The question is did he really believe what he said?”

Von Trier’s latest movie Melancholia is in competition in Cannes this year, and had been seen as a possible prize winner before his remarks appeared to snuff out its chances.

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