May 18th, 2011
12:50 PM ET
Filmmaker Lars von Trier ("Breaking the Waves," "Dancer in the Dark") is no stranger to stirring up controversy, but he took things to a whole new level at a recent press conference in Cannes, where he joked that he was a Nazi and even sympathized with Hitler.
"For a long time I thought I was a Jew and I was happy to be a Jew,” von Trier said when asked about his Germanic roots, according to the Hollywood Reporter. "Then I met [Danish and Jewish director] Susanne Bier and I wasn’t so happy. But then I found out I was actually a Nazi. My family were German. And that also gave me some pleasure. What can I say? I understand Hitler…I sympathize with him a bit."
The director, who was promoting his movie "Melancholia," clarified, "I don’t mean I’m in favor of World War II and I’m not against Jews, not even Susanne Bier,” then added, "In fact I’m very much in favor of them. All Jews. Well, Israel is a pain the a— but…"
Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg, who co-star in "Melancholia," reportedly looked on in shock throughout von Trier's remarks.
"Now can I get out of this sentence? OK. I’m a Nazi," he said. But von Trier had one more parting shot for the crowd. Asked if he would like to do a large-scale film, he replied, "Yes. We Nazis like to do things on a big scale. Maybe I could do 'The Final Solution.'"
The Cannes Film Festival has since issued an apology on behalf of von Trier.
"The Festival de Cannes was disturbed about the statements made by Lars von Trier in his press conference this morning in Cannes," reads a press release. "Therefore the Festival asked him to provide an explanation for his comments."
According to the release, von Trier "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."
Update 5:16 p.m.: Director von Trier has also issued a statement regarding his remarks, saying, "If I have hurt someone this morning by the words I said at the press conference, I sincerely apologize. I am not antisemitic or racially prejudiced in any way, nor am I a nazi."
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