If Lars von Trier's Melancholia wins at the Cannes film festival, he won't be able to accept the award — because he's "persona non grata" in the wake of his comments that he's a Nazi who can "understand" Hitler.
The festival — which awarded the filmmaker its top prize in 2000 for Dancer in the Dark — condemned his remarks, as did Jewish groups, which lauded the event organizers for their actions.
The fest's board of directors statement said it "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 expressed regret "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."
His film remains eligible for awards, but von Trier "won't be there to receive the prize" if it wins anything Sunday, said Christine Aime, head of the festival's press office.
Von Trier, who's also directed Dogville and Breaking the Waves, said at a festival news conference Wednesday that he found out "he was really a Nazi, because my family was German ... which also gave me some pleasure. ... I understand Hitler. But I think he did some wrong things. Yes, absolutely ... I sympathize with him a little bit."
The filmmaker further said his next project with Melancholia stars Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg would be a long porn film "with lots of uncomfortable sex." He later said he had been joking and didn't think people took his comments seriously.
The Associated Press quoted Elan Steinberg, vice president of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants, as praising the Cannes board's decision. "This is a welcome action which declares to the world that the suffering of victims is not a fit subject for mockery or casual self-promotion," Steinberg said. "The organizers of the Cannes film festival have eloquently taken a determined moral stand against cavalier expressions of hate and insensitivity to those brutalized by the Nazis — Jew and non-Jew."