Lars von Trier returns to Cannes after Hitler comments

Danish film director Lars von Trier was expelled from the Cannes film festival in 2011 after saying he 'sympathised' with Hitler
AFP

Paris (AFP) – The Cannes Film Festival announced Thursday that Danish director Lars von Trier will return to the event this year for the first time since he was expelled in 2011 for saying he “sympathised” with Hitler.

Festival president Pierre Lescure decided to “welcome back” the Danish director, though his film will not be eligible for awards, according to a festival press release. 

His film “The House That Jack Built” will screen outside the official competition.

His musical production “Dancer in the Dark” in 2000 won the Palme d’Or, the highest award at the festival and one of the most prestigious prizes in the French film industry. 

But Icelandic singer Bjork has since alleged that von Trier sexually harassed her during her performance. Von Trier has denied the claims.

This year, five of the nine jury members who award the Palme d’Or are female amid a global movement for women’s rights sparked by allegations of sexual misconduct by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

The majority-female jury, led by by Cate Blanchett, Kristen Stewart and Lea Seydoux, was unveiled on Wednesday as talks were under way to allow Von Trier back into the competition.

– ‘Don Quixote’ 20 years in the making –

Also showing out-of-competition will be Terry Gilliam’s film “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote,” which will end the festival, organisers announced on Thursday.

The film stars Jonathan Pryce as a delusional old man who thinks he is Don Quixote and mistakes Adam Driver as his sidekick Sancho Panza.

Gilliam, a former member of the British comedy group Monty Python, worked on “Don Quixote” for 20 years. It was supposed to premiere in 2000 but couldn’t due to conflict with producers.

Von Trier’s new film “The House That Jack Built,” which stars Matt Dillon and Uma Thurman, follows the life of a serial killer.

Von Trier’s ban from Cannes was due to comments he made during a press conference for his 2011 film “Melancholia,” which starred American actress Kirsten Dunst.

“I really wanted to be a Jew and then I found out that I was really a Nazi,” he said when asked about his German heritage.

“I’m just saying that I think I understand the man. He’s not what you would call a good guy, but, yeah, I understand much about him, and I sympathise with him a little bit.”

Later that day, von Trier issued a statement of apology, insisting he was neither anti-Semitic nor a Nazi.

Many cinema professionals, especially in France, felt the Danish director had gone too far and backed the festival board’s decision to exclude von Trier.

This year’s festival runs from May 8 to 19 at the French Riviera resort.

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