Cannes expels "shocked" Von Trier for Hitler remarks

Thu May 19, 2011 6:34pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White and Nick Vinocur

CANNES, France (Reuters) - The Cannes film festival expelled Danish director Lars Von Trier on Thursday for jokingly calling himself a Nazi and Hitler sympathizer, leaving the world's biggest cinema showcase in a state of shock.

The expulsion, the first in 64 years, followed a hastily convened meeting of its board of directors.

"Using the Cannes film festival to say such intolerable things in front of the media is to tarnish its image," said festival president Gilles Jacob.

"The festival had no choice but to react very strongly," he told a small group of reporters. He described the meeting as "tense" and said the decision to withdraw Von Trier's accreditation was not unanimous.

Von Trier told Reuters in a telephone interview that he was shocked by the decision, which he believed stemmed from the fact that his meaning had been misunderstood.

"I'm beyond the point of being disappointed, I am just very tired of the whole thing," the 55-year-old said. "It has come as quite a shock for me, I must say." He said politics and culture should be kept apart and found apologizing "a little distasteful" because it was easy and achieved nothing.

Asked if he would return to Cannes, Von Trier replied: "I don't know if I will be allowed in the Palais (festival center) again. Maybe Cannes has pushed me out to be more of a rebel."

Von Trier's comments on Wednesday angered Jewish groups and caused U.S. actress Kirsten Dunst to squirm with embarrassment beside him at a press conference, as he launched into a bizarre monologue about his Jewish and German heritage.   Continued...

<p>Director Lars Von Trier arrives on the red carpet for the screening of the film "Melancholia" in competition at the 64th Cannes Film Festival, May 18, 2011. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier</p>