Von Trier Vows To Shun Press Conferences After Hitler Furore

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May 21, 2011 | 9:35am EST

Danish director Lars Von Trier has vowed to shun future movie press conferences after allowing himself to get “carried away” at the Cannes Film Festival and make controversial statements about Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.
Von Trier stunned reporters at an interview session for his new film Melancholia on Wednesday when he rambled on about his German heritage and declared he could “understand” Hitler.

Organisers subsequently banned him from the French movie event, and Trier admits he was “completely and absolutely stupid” to make the comments.

He tells BBC News, “I am sorry for my own sake and I am sorry if I have hurt anyone, that was not my intention at all. It was completely and absolutely stupid.

“I blame myself, because you can say words in press conferences which can be taken out of context. But I was carried away. I thought I was sitting with my friends talking, and then suddenly I was talking to the world.”

But von Trier insists his remarks were “lost in translation” by the media.

He adds, “I have thought about it, and when I said, ‘I sympathise with Hitler’ I would have used 20 words in Danish to explain that I am interested in the man himself, and then hopefully people would have understood.

“I understand these issues are a no-go area. I do like to provoke, but mostly I do it for a reason. I am not a Nazi, or an anti-Semite, and I had nothing to achieve… I am not trying to excuse myself, it was extremely stupid of me.”

The director also hopes his remorse over the remarks will prompt Cannes bosses to one day overturn his festival ban, adding: “It’s pretty much up to the festival. I accept it. My own crazy family would actually be very proud that I was ‘persona non grata’, not just in Cannes, but anywhere in the world.”

Von Trier’s apocalyptic drama Melancholia remains in competition for the festival’s top prize, the Palme d’Or, which will be handed out on Sunday. The director will not be allowed to collect the prestigious honor if he wins.