Provocative Danish filmmaker Lars Von Trier usually lets his art house films push people's buttons, but today at the Cannes Film Festival, he decided to push them during a press conference. Von Trier was discussing his new film Melancholia before he said, "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, which also gave me some pleasure."
Apparently Von Trier recently found out the man he thought was his father wasn't his father. According to Arts Beat, Von Trier said, "I thought I was a Jew for a long time and was very happy being a Jew... But it turned out I was not a Jew, but even if I’d been a Jew I would be kind of a second-rate Jew because there is kind of a hierarchy in the Jewish population" (Arts Beat noted he said this "as the stars of “Melancholia,” Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg, who sat beside him, began to look uncomfortable").
Von Trier further said, "What can I say? I understand Hitler. I think he did some wrong things, yes absolutely, but I can see him sitting in his bunker in the end... I think I understand the man. 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," and added, "Okay, I am a Nazi. As for the art, I’m for Speer. Albert Speer I liked. He was also one of God’s best children. He has a talent that … Okay, enough.”
Also, "I am of course very much for Jews. No, not too much because Israel is a pain in the ass. But still, how can I get out of this sentence?”
See video of the press conference here. The festival issued a statement saying, "The Festival de Cannes was disturbed about the statements made by Lars von Trier in his press conference this morning in Cannes. Therefore the Festival asked him to provide an explanation for his comments. The director states that he let himself be egged on by a provocation. He presents his apology. The direction of the Festival acknowledges this and is passing on Lars von Trier’s apology. The Festival is adamant that it would never allow the event to become the forum for such pronouncements on such subjects." And here is Von Trier's apology, "If I have hurt someone this morning by the words I said at the press conference, I sincerely apologize. I am not anti-semitic or racially prejudiced in any way, nor am I a Nazi."