Man Up

No journalist has tried to organize a Lars Von Trier Cannes-banning protest petition so I guess I’ll have to do it, dammit. Or at least I can propose the wording of the statement:

Date: Thursday, 5.19.11

To: Cannes Film Festival Board of Directors

From: Cannes-attending Journalists & Filmmakers

Subject: Decision to Declare Lars Von Trier “Persona Non Grata” In Wake of Inflammatory Statements at 5.18.11 Press Conference

We, the undersigned, recognize the the Board’s responsibility to respond forcefully and unequivocally to the offensive statements made on Wednesday, 5.18, by Melancholia director Lars von Trier. You are a political body as well as a team dedicated to drawing annual worldwide attention to the most exciting and artful films, and in this context you were obliged to verbally admonish Mr. Von Trier, even though he sincerely apologized for these statements on the same day he made them.

We feel, however, that declaring an artist of his accomplishments and magnitude “persona non grata” is an over-reaction. We ask that you reconsider.

You no doubt understand that Mr. Von Trier is a bit of a rascal and a provocateur. He loves to poke at the hornet’s nest. We recognize, of course, that he went too far with Wednesday’s statements (although we believe they were made in jest) and that he committed a grave political error in doing so.

But Lars Von Trier is one of your own — a longtime friend of the festival — and it seems harsh and even rash to throw him under the bus in this manner. Your decision seems particularly inappropriate since he is the director of one of this year’s most emphatically praised competition entries, one which, until late yesterday morning, stood a reasonable if not better-than-decent chance of winning the Palme d’Or.

Lars von Trier is a serious and compassionate artist who has time and again made films that have, with the possible exception of Antichrist, lent immeasurable dignity and stature to your festival. His films have shown time and again that he is full of nothing if not artistic bravery. As with all artists, his films are surely a truer, deeper representation of who he is and what he feels and believes than any words he might carelessly speak at a press conference. Never trust the artist — trust the tale.

Due respect, but respect needs to be paid. Lars Von Trier, an imperfect human being like all of us, needs to be offered charity and clemency. Admonish by all means, but don’t excommunicate.

Thank you.

  • DiscoNap

    This is great.

  • Ray DeRousse

    It’s bizarre to read words and phrases like “rascal” or “throw him under the bus” in some sort of official statement to be delivered to an official body. It sounds like a HE post with a new header on it.

  • lbeale

    Abby Hoffman was a provocateur. Rimbaud was a provocateur. Von Trier is an idiot. He got what he deserved. Time to stop excusing people’s despicable conduct just because they’re ‘artists.’

  • moviemorlock

    I know nothing. Hogan!!!!!!

  • Ryan Stewart

    If Cannes wanted to ban Von Trier, they could have issued a statement saying “He and his films are hereby precluded from future participation in the festival.” Done. Instead they used “persona non grata” as an escape clause phrase. He’s not banned. You don’t ban the life of your party.

  • JR

    Fuck da French…they are idiots.

    LVT should be ignored, admonished, but not banned for un PC speech.

    Our eurotrash friends don’t enjoy the freedoms we have here in the US, particularly in the area of speech. If he had uttered this crap in Germany, he could have been arrested.


    “Our eurotrash friends don’t enjoy the freedoms we have here in the US”

    LOL! You’re right about there being more sensitivity regarding Nazism in Germany. Wonder why.

  • The Pope


    you’re getting yourself into a quagmire of hypocrisy here. You’re asking him not to be banned… but I am going to say something now which I am quite certain runs a very big chance that I will be banned from your blog.

    You’re a fucking idiot. You are a blowhard asshole who frequently condemns the opinions and ignorance of others and then has the temerity to turn around and defend the profound ignorance of an “artist.”

    Von Trier has tried to trivialize a shameful event by using it to attract publicity for his movie. Von Trier is a child who provokes and then demands he not be held responsible.

    Cannes are absolutely correct in throwing him out.

    By making “jokes” like that, Von Trier had contributed to the growing trend of normalizing Nazism.

    Again Jeff, you’re a fucking idiot.

    Go ahead. Ban me and you will prove yourself a hypocrite. But if you don’t… well, you’re still a hypocrite for banning others.

  • Glenn Kenny

    “Time to stop excusing people’s despicable conduct just because they’re ‘artists.'” Yeah, good luck with that, Lewis. You’ve only got about three millenia of precedent to push back.

    You understand that such statements make you come off like Marnin Rosenberg of Drew-Friedman-cartoon fame, as in “Why don’t you all grow up…ah, forget it…”

  • actionlover

    Is that white smoke I see emanating from the top of the Sistine Chapel?

  • KellerD

    With due respect, Jeff-

    You are out of your fucking mind. Maybe you need to crack a history book and take into consideration where the statements were made by this “rascal”. This is a country where Holocaust deniers are put into fucking jail.

    What you really need to do, Jeff, is put together a petition for your readers to vow to Magnolia Pictures to boycott this film they bought from this anti-semitic asshole.

    You ought to be ashamed of yourself. And, by the way, how do you know that he was sincere in his apology.

    You too. JR. “Non-PC”? Fuck you.

    Go ahead and ban me, Jeff. Maybe somebody will file a peition to save me.

  • The Pope


    hahahaha! Nice one!

  • DuluozGray

    Wells is right on the money. But would he say the same thing if Von Trier had went on a rant about Mohammed being a pedophile?

  • KellerD


    Spoken like a man who does not know a thing about the Holocaust.

    You are equating Hitler with a religious leader?

    Think about what you write.

    Stupid beyond belief.

  • Ponderer

    I just don’t get any of this shit at all. His English was all fucked up, but from watching it, it sounded like he wasn’t saying anything about the Holocaust, but that he understood Hitler in the bunker. Maybe tasteless and certainly weird and awkward, but I don’t think he was making some kind of denialist statement.

    What am I missing?

  • CitizenKaned4Life

    Lost me at, “with the possible exception of Antichrist“; that’s one of his very best, IMHO.

    But looks like you have the highest Cannes hit-counter thread since Tree of Life on your hands here, so bravo.

  • moviemorlock

    Where do I sign?

    -R. Polanski

    Wait, he said what???? Fuck him!!!

  • JD

    If you give LVT the benefit of the doubt for 2 minutes, his comments become far less inflammatory. He didn’t defend Hitler and he didn’t deny the Holocaust, he simply said that a) he is a Nazi (in the sense that his biological father turned-out to be a WW2-era German) and b) he understands Hitler. The latter comment doesn’t mean he defends or agrees with Hitler (in fact, he specifically said he doesn’t defend or agree with Hitler), it simply means he understands dark, screwed-up thinking and what it’s like to be a deeply troubled person. LVT doesn not have a normal thought process. Remember, he said his acclaimed new film might be “a piece of crap” in the same press conference.

  • lbeale

    Glen Kenny, please explain your reference. I have no clue what you’re talking about.

    And just beause people keep excusing despicable artistic behavior doesn’t mean we should stop condemning it. That’s like saying the rich will always dump on the poor, so don’t bother to try to change things.

  • Vidian

    Jeff and all-

    Read you every day, don’t comment offend. LVT does deserve to be left out this time- just sit out this year. He used a word that is JUST AS bad as the ‘N’ word and anyone using it – and you can’t use either word as ‘a Joke’- should be given a ‘time out’ .

    We can’t go on enough about the power and baggage that come with these words.

    “too soon?” You bet-cha’ – to paraphrase another person who speaks first then thinks.

    You just can’t back peddle from a statement using words like this. I know it’s part of ‘His Act” to be outrageous AND part of that act is to take it when you go too far.

    Jeff let the board slap him on the wrist and send him home THIS YEAR- any more than that I agree is going TOO FAR, but LVT knocked himself out with this one.

  • wester

    Ponderer has it right. Though, if the joke weren’t worn out completely, this would be a good time for one of those Downfall videos where Hitler and LVT are best buds and he’s mad at the Cannes people… hey should they retroactively ban Oliver Hirschbiegel, Bruno Ganz, and everyone else involved in the production of Downfall now?

    And Antichrist was great.

  • filmsofdusts

    Seriously, you people need to get a life. Especially the people that are just coming out of the woodword to specifically comment on this post alone. LVT and Jeff Wells are playing you all and yet you still get your panties in a twist and huff and puff and try to blow this virtual nonsense down.

    Oh noooo, not the N word! Not a joke about his own fucked up past! OMG, he wrote FUCK on his knuckles and now he jokes about making a porn flick with Kirsten Dunst! How dare he! To the guillotine as the cine dieuz would desire!

    Lighten up, Francis!

    Learn to look at the actual world and not be so horrified, appalled, and in denial about the reality around you.

  • Gabriel

    Ryan Stewart has it right – Cannes are scolding him in harsher-than-usual terms, but I don’t take this shun much more seriously than I took Von Trier’s comments. I wouldn’t even bat an eye if it comes out that Von Trier put them up to it.

    That said, this petition still has a function for the people who are having aneurisms over his comments. Cosigned (except the “Antichrist” diss).

  • Glenn Kenny

    It’s not funny if I explain it. Do your own homework, if you can be bothered to get off your high horse. The book is “Warts and All,” by Drew Friedman and Josh Alan Friedman.

  • lbeale

    What’s your problem, Glenn? I called out an asshole. So what? That means I’m on my ‘high horse?’

  • denny

    I like did :)

  • Parris Mitchell

    Dr. Samuel Johnson: “Olson Johnson is right. What kind of people are we anyhow? I say we stay and fight it out!”

    Gabby Johnson: [rants unintelligibly]

    Howard Johnson: “Dr. Samuel Johnson’s right about Olson Johnson being right. And I’m not giving up my ice cream parlor, that I built with these two hands, for nothing or nobody.”

    [general murmuring]

    Sam Johnson: “Howard Johnson is right!”

    Van Johnson: “Right!”

    Howard Johnson: “Thank you, Van.”

    JR/KellerD/IBeale: “You’re all apologists for racist assholes”

  • hiviper

    @ Ponderer

    I’ll explain it for you: He said that once he found out he was German and therefore a Nazi (as if all Germans were Nazi’s), it gave him “pleasure”. I guess he never heard that there were German Jews.

    Followed by the statement that he “understood and sympathized” with Hitler. He threw in “in the bunker there” only at the end after realizing he was babbling himself into a corner.

    In the clip I saw you could see that Charlotte Gainsbourg’s was getting uncomfortable, but why she was smiling at all is beyond me.

  • Sams

    You may be right in that the petition may only serve to get your passes downgraded. Von Trier got himself in this mess despite people around him including Dunst trying to cue him to stop. Only he can get himself out of it — and only behind the scenes because his public apologies are not helping.

  • George Prager

    Lars id nothing to get himself banned from Cannes. This whole thing is ridiculous. Is Polanski banned from Cannes?

    Some context for the Marnin Rosenberg reference.

    (I guess Glenn is too modest to link to his own blog so I will):

  • Glenn Kenny

    Yeah, Lewis, you “called him out” all right. Don’t hold your breath waiting for a medal or anything.

  • creepingmalaise

    What happened to the part about mutilating female genetalia that was in the first draft?

  • lbeale

    Glenn, I don’t believe in getting into pissing contests with other on-line bloggers. Let’s just say you’re on the wrong side of history with this one.

    And even after Prager posted the link, I still don’t get it.

  • George Prager

    “Let’s just say you’re on the wrong side of history with this one.”

    Wrong. You can still buy books by Celine in any bookstore and he really meant it.

  • lbeale

    So what, George? You can still see ‘Triumph of the Will,’ also.

    But guess what? The people Celine and Riefenstalh celebrated? They lost.

    And now von Trier thinks he can joke about it. Millions and millions of victims are spinning in their graves.

  • George Prager

    Trier isn’t joking about it. And you misunderstood my argument: the art always wins.

    I guess from now on we can call you the Deathtongue_groupie of Von Trier posts.

  • michael

    Glenn Kenny: At the risk of bringing down more of your wrath on myself, I actually am honestly curious about something. I don’t have a dog in this fight, and although I come to this site everyday and read almost everything because I just enjoy how he writes even when I disagree. My question is, why are you defending LVT so much here. I don’t think he’s a nazi and I don’t think he should be banned from Cannes, but a PR backlash is just that, a PR backlash. I don’t see the need for petitions and protests and all that. It will blow over in time and people will not care one way or the other. It seems like, based on some of your comments where you just slam anyone who has a different opinion, that you are personally vested in this. I’m just curious. No name calling or trolling, just curiosity.

  • Phatang!

    This is all a ridiculous overreaction. It’s not like Von Trier said something nasty about ZODIAC.

  • berg

    don’t forget Lars does this kind of stuff on a regular basis …. in the 90s when Polanski handed him the award for second place at Cannes (for Zentropa/Europa) Lars threw down the award and stomped off stage, and of course later apologized for acting like a child … so what?

  • Momus

    Thanks for saying the right thing, ThePope, KellerD, Ibeale. Major kudos.

  • Glenn Kenny

    @ Michael, comment #37: I’m not “defending” von Trier, who as I’ve noted elsewhere, has a reasonably storied history of saying stupid overblown things and could very well be entirely aware of the good publicity value of such behavior. I am not calling for petitions (that’s Jeff) and I’m not calling for protests: The bits about May ’68 and remaking “Carlos” were JOKES. Really. As were my jibes at the supremely self-righteous lbeale, who seems to be under the impression that he’s Making A Difference by “calling out” von Trier when in reality he’s merely demonstrating what a sadly potent mix “too much time on one’s hands” and “hugely bitter” can be. I understand that tone is a problem on the internet, but trust me; I’m having a laugh, mostly. It’s still amusing to see people who like to get all huffy over “free speech” principles celebrate this because the guy at the receiving end is someone they don’t like.

  • qdpsteve

    Thanks for saying the right thing, ThePope, KellerD, Ibeale. Major kudos.

    Yes. Yes!

    It’s still amusing to see people who like to get all huffy over “free speech” principles celebrate this because the guy at the receiving end is someone they don’t like.

    Would that also go for politicians and pundits (such as John Nolte) you don’t like, GK? (Honest question.)

  • Glenn Kenny

    @qdpsteve: Yes, it does. I don’t agree with Nolte and I don’t admire his rhetorical style and if it came down to it I’d say I rather he didn’t do what he did, but I would absolutely object to his being banned or squelched by any official body.

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