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20 May 2011

Danish director Lars Von Trier has accepted his ban from the Cannes Film Festival, following his claims that he sympathised with Adolf Hitler.

Speaking on Thursday, one of the producers of his film Melancholia said he "accepts whatever the festival directors want to do to punish him".

"It's up to the festival to decide what is good for the festival," Meta Foldager told the AFP agency.

In a statement, organisers said the film-maker was now "persona non grata".

The director stunned onlookers on Wednesday by stating, during a press conference, that while he was "not against Jews... Israel is a pain in the ass".

His off-colour remarks, purportedly made in jest, prompted a swift rebuke from organisers and Von Trier apologised the same day.

"I am not anti-Semitic or racially prejudiced in any way, nor am I a Nazi," he said in a statement.

'No place'

The festival's decision to ban the director came after Wednesday's premiere of Von Trier's Melancholia, which remains in competition at this year's event.

The decision was supported by French culture minister Frederic Mitterrand who told reporters in Brussels that "there is a major difference between a film that was chosen in a calm atmosphere and a director who clearly blew a fuse".

He added Von Trier's remarks "did not have a place in the festival, or anywhere else for that matter".

Organisers said Cannes' board of directors had held "an extraordinary meeting" at which Von Trier was declared "a persona non grata... with effect immediately".

The director's comments, they said, were "unacceptable, intolerable and contrary to the ideals of humanity and generosity that preside over the very existence of the festival".
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    The festival's board of directors... regrets that this forum has been used by Lars Von Trier to express comments that are unacceptable [and] intolerable”

Festival de Cannes

The 55-year-old is a previous winner of the festival's Palme d'Or award and is renowned for courting controversy.

The festival said it had been "disturbed" by the 55-year-old's comments and had asked him to "provide an explanation".

"The director states that he let himself be egged on by a provocation," its initial statement read.

"The festival is adamant that it would never allow the event to become the forum for such pronouncements on such subjects."

Von Trier and his stars were all smiles as they took to the red carpet on Wednesday at the official screening of Melancholia.

The mood was very different earlier, however, when the director's remarks were met by awkward, stony silences.

Spider-Man actress Dunst was heard to describe the occasion as "intense" as she left the podium.

In an interview later, the star admitted Von Trier had "run his mouth" and had "dug himself in a deep hole".

A family drama that takes place in the shadow of an imminent apocalypse, Melancholia also stars the French actress Charlotte Gainsbourg and Britain's John Hurt.

Von Trier was last at Cannes in 2009 with Antichrist, a dark drama featuring graphic scenes of sex and violence that provoked a furore at that year's event.


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