The Cannes Film Festival, on Thursday declared the Danish master, Lars Von Trier, persona non-grata. This is in response to Von Trier’s statement on Wednesday at his press conference soon after the screening of his movie, “Melancholia” in the prestigious competition section.
He told the conference that he was a Nazi, and although he later apologised for his remark, the festival appears to have taken this very seriously.
In a press note issued on Thursday, the festival said, “The Festival provides artists from around the world with an exceptional forum to present their works and defend the freedom of expression and creation. The Festival’s Board of Directors, which held an extraordinary meeting this Thursday 19 May 2011, 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.
“The Board of Directors firmly condemns these comments and declares Lars Von Trier persona non grata at the Festival de Cannes, with immediate effect”.
In the late 1960s, the brilliant French critic and director, Francois Truffaut, was similarly refused entry into and accreditation for the festival, because of his scathing critique of French movies and the festival, which he felt was propping up bad cinema.
It is, of course, another story that he later became the darling of the festival with many of his films being screened and honoured there.
Interestingly, this year’s president of the jury, the brilliant American actor, Robert De Niro, also had his issues, though not directly with the festival.
Away from the glare of arc lamps, De Niro has lived a quiet life barring a few messy situations that he got entangled in. He was questioned over his possible involvement in a Parisian prostitution ring in 1998. He denied that he had anything to do with it, and quipped that even if he had paid for sex, it was not a crime.
Nevertheless, he was furious and told the French daily, Le Monde, “I will never return to France”. He then advised his friends against visiting the country, gave back his Legion of Honour, and stayed away from the Cannes Film Festival.
This year, he relented and agreed to chair the jury.