Lita On Film

Posts Tagged ‘Nazis’

Von Trier Cries Mea Culpa (Again)

In Film News on May 24, 2011 at 7:55 pm

Cannes’ first-ever official “persona non grata,” Lars Von Trier, reacted today to news that none other than the Iranian Deputy Culture Minister for Cinematic Affairs, Javad Shamaqdar, had come–unbidden, one assumes–to his defense.

Shamaqdar reportedly stated that Cannes’ actions represented “traces of fascist behavior,” apparently not appreciating the irony of the situation: Cannes played host this year to not one but two films by Iranian directors who have both been persecuted by their government simply for making films.

The most well-known director, Jafar Panahi, who has won awards at both Berlin and Cannes in the past, is serving a six-year term under house arrest for trying to make a film about the contested 2009 Iranian presidential election.  He is also banned from making films for 20 years.  His entry, “This Is Not A Film,” was reportedly sent to Cannes via a thumbdrive hidden inside a cake that had to be smuggled out of the country.

What Shamaqdar (and, by extension, the Iranian Culture Ministry) doesn’t acknowledge in comparing Von Trier’s treatment to “the churches’ medieval treatment of Galileo” is the fact that what Galileo stated (that the earth goes around the sun, rather than vice versa) was an assertion of scientific judgment.  What Von Trier spouted last Wednesday was a rambling stream of consciousness monologue that included statements about his being a Nazi, being glad he wasn’t a Jew because he doesn’t like Suzanne Bier–despite his company, Zentropa, having produced her Oscar-winning film–and how he “sympathizes” with Hitler.  Cannes didn’t infringe on Von Trier’s right to free speech by kicking him out of the festival, as Shamaqdar claims; he is free to say whatever self-sabotaging nonsense he wants, just not on the Festival’s property.  Von Trier also apologized for his comments several times of his own accord, not because he was “forced” to do so by the Cannes organizers, as Shamaqdar claims.

Kirsten Dunst, star of "Melancholia," tries to get Von Trier to shut up

Perhaps needless to say, Von Trier quickly distanced himself from the Ministry’s comments, stating that his press conference drivel had been “unintelligent, ambiguous and needlessly hurtful.”  He went on to say that what he really meant was that historical atrocities have to be portrayed in terms that people can relate to, rather than casting them as episodes of such extreme evil that they cease to seem real and relevant to the present day.  The chastened director went on to state that such multifaceted portrayals are “necessary in order to avoid any future crimes against humanity.”

If Von Trier really wanted to apologize for his idiocy, perhaps his next film could be devoted to the plight of those who, like Panahi, are persecuted, imprisoned and murdered by regimes like that of Iran, simply for exercising their right to free speech.

Von Trier’s Company Issues Apology

In Film News on May 20, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Varietyis reporting that Lars Von Trier’s production company, Zentropa (of which he shares 25% ownership with current CEO Peter Aalbaek Jensen) has issued an apology regarding Von Trier’s incendiary comments at a Cannes press conference Wednesday.  Jensen reportedly tried to explain the incident as a “joke that had gone too far,” but the consequences of Von Trier’s Nazi-sympathizing logorrhea have already stretched halfway around the globe.

Argentina has reportedly cancelled its distribution plans for Von Trier’s new film, Melancholia, which is still up for the Palme D’Or at Cannes.  The CEO of TrustNordisk, the company distributing Melancholia internationally, tried to steer the conversation away from Von Trier, saying to Variety that “the film itself has nothing to do with Lars’ comments.”  We’ll see  how that plays out in the days and weeks to come.  Danish Film Institute CEO Henrik Bo Nielsen, after learning of the incident, reportedly quipped “…there’s nothing new in the fact that great artists make stupid remarks.”

Palme D'Or hopeful Melancholia

One hopes that Von Trier’s remarks won’t affect the reputation of his fellow Danish filmmakers.  Susanne Bier (director of the 2010 Oscar winner “In A Better World,” which was produced by Zentropa), who  was also personally disparaged by Von Trier in his bizarre diatribe this week, hasn’t released a statement herself, though a rep for her Italian distributor Teodora Films condemned the remarks and promised “never [to] release a Von Trier movie in Italy.”

Von Trier Expelled from Cannes

In Film Reviews on May 19, 2011 at 1:35 pm

The NYT is reporting that Danish director/enfant terrible Lars Von Trier has been officially declared “persona non grata” by the directors of the Cannes Film Festival because of remarks made at a press conference declaring himself a Nazi and expressing admiration for Hitler.

He has been ordered off the premises and parties to celebrate his latest film, “Melancholia,” have been unceremoniously cancelled.  However, his film is still in the running for the festival’s biggest prize–though, should it win, Von Trier won’t be allowed to collect his accolades in person.

Magnolia says the incident won’t affect their distribution plans, so those still willing to put up with Von Trier can delight in his latest oeuvre sometime this fall.