Cannes Film Festival condemns filmmaker after Hitler remarks

May 19, 2011 - 8:13 AM

France Cannes Melancholia Premiere

From left, actresses Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kirsten Dunst and director Lars Von Trier arrive for the screening of Melancholia at the 64th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, Wednesday, May 18, 2011. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

CANNES, France (AP) — Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier has been condemned and declared "persona non grata" by the Cannes Film Festival for saying that he sympathizes with Adolf Hitler.

A statement from Cannes organizers Thursday castigated von Trier for his comments a day earlier. It is an unprecedented move by the festival that bestowed its highest honor on the director's film "Dancer in the Dark" back in 2000.

Though the statement did not specify whether von Trier's current film, "Melancholia," has been booted from Cannes, a spokeswoman for the festival press office said it remained in the competition for prizes, which will be handed out at a closing ceremony Sunday.

At a news conference for the film Wednesday, von Trier said in a rambling train of thought that he understood and sympathized with Hitler. He said afterward he had been joking and later issued an apology.

The festival statement said the Cannes board of directors "firmly condemns these comments and declares Lars von Trier a persona non grata at the festival."

The festival "provides artists from around the world with an exceptional forum to present their works and defend freedom of expression and creation," the statement said. The board "profoundly regrets that this forum has been used by Lars von Trier to express comments that are unacceptable, intolerable, and contrary to the ideals of humanity and generosity that preside over the very existence of the festival."