Danish director Lars von Trier caused an international uproar this morning at his Cannes press conference when he said he was a Nazi and that he sympathized with Hitler "a bit." (He was also brandishing a tattoo on his knuckles that read "F*CK," just one indication of how he likes to court controversy.)
The Cannes Film Festival demanded an apology from the director, who is at the fest to promote his latest film, 'Melancholia.' A statement issued by the festival said its organizers were "disturbed." Although they received an apology of sorts from the director, that he was "egged on by a provocation," they refused to accept it.
Their statement read: "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."
Von Trier then issued a press release, in which he stated, "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."
The bulk of the controversial director's inflammatory remarks this morning were aimed at fellow Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier, whose film 'In a Better World' won this year's Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.
At the press conference, von Trier said, "For a long time I was a Jew and I was happy to be a Jew, then I met Susanne Bier and I wasn't so happy. But then I found out I was actually a Nazi. My family was German. That also gave me pleasure. What can I say? I understand Hitler. I sympathize with him a bit."
Many regarded it as a bad joke, but the comments still offended the festival, Jewish groups around the globe and, reportedly, von Trier's own cast, including Kirsten Dunst.
Von Trier's films include 'Breaking the Waves,' 'Dogville,' and 'Antichrist.' He won Cannes' Palme D'Or award for 'Dancer in the Dark.' His latest, 'Melancholia,' starring Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg, has received rave reviews at Cannes but seems unlikely to take home any prizes this year after his ill-advised rant.