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Von Trier stirs up Cannes with Hitler, Nazi quips
CANNES, FRANCE (AP) - Lars von Trier brought the end of the world to the Cannes Film Festival _ then the Danish director really shook things up, saying he sympathizes with Adolf Hitler, thinks Israel is a pain and plans to make a porn flick with Kirsten Dunst.
Von Trier’s remarks Wednesday stirred up reporters and sparked a swift response from festival organizers, who issued a statement saying they were “disturbed” and had called the Danish director in to explain himself.
Von Trier’s publicists later released a separate statement saying the director “sincerely apologize(d)” for the comments.
“I am not anti-Semitic or racially prejudiced in any way, nor am I a Nazi,” he is quoted as saying.
Von Trier made the incendiary comments at a news conference following the first screening of his latest film, apocalypse drama “Melancholia,” where he was flanked by its stars, including Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg.
Asked about his German heritage, von Trier launched into a rambling train of thoughts, starting with how he used to think he was a Jew and his disappointment when he learned he was not.
“I really wanted to be a Jew, and then I found out that I was really a Nazi, because, you know, my family was German,” von Trier said. “Which also gave me some pleasure. …
“What can I say? I understand Hitler, but I think he did some wrong things, yes, absolutely. But I can see him sitting in his bunker in the end,” von Trier said. “He’s not what you would call a good guy, but I understand much about him, and I sympathize with him a little bit. But come on, I’m not for the Second World War, and I’m not against Jews. …
“I am very much for Jews. No, not too much, because Israel is a pain in the ass.”
Von Trier then asked, “How can I get out of this sentence?”
Afterward, von Trier told The Associated Press the remarks just spilled out without any forethought.
“I don’t have so much to say, so I kind of have to improvise a little and just to let the feelings I have kind of come out into words,” von Trier said. “This whole Nazi thing, I don’t know where it came from, but you spend a lot of time in Germany, you sometimes want to feel a little free and just talk about this (expletive), you know?”
Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, which is based in Paris, said the comments were an example of the growing phenomenon of what he called “respectable anti-Semitism.”
“Von Trier’s remarks serve as another reminder of the seeming comfort that anti-Semites feel expressing their prejudices in public gatherings,” Kantor said in a statement. “There must be consequences for these types of racist tirades, or it will just continue and escalate.”
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