Persona non grata no longer? Six years after being banned from the Cannes Film Festival for what might generously be described as an ill-advised Hitler joke, Lars von Trier and his team are said to be in negotiations to premiere his next film on the Croisette. The Danish auteur is currently at work on “The House That Jack Built,” which could potentially debut at Cannes last year.
At a press conference in Dalsland, Sweden, co-producer Louise Vesth alluded to the vaunted French festival, saying “I have talked to the people I know in Cannes and … yeah, maybe.” That could be a big maybe, all things considered.
“I thought I was a Jew for a long time and was very happy being a Jew … Then it turned out that I was not a Jew … I found out that I was really a Nazi which also gave me some pleasure,” von Trier said during a press conference for “Melancholia,” which won Kirsten Dunst the festival’s Best Actress prize in 2011. The comment, which began as a joke on fellow Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier’s behalf and involved von Trier’s German ancestry, quickly unraveled.
“I’m saying that I think I understand the man. He is not what we could call a good guy, but yeah, I understand much about him and I sympathize with him,” von Trier continued. “But come on! I’m not for the Second World War. And I’m not against Jews. No, not even Susanne Bier. I am very much for them. As much as Israelis are a pain in the ass. How do I get out of this sentence? Okay, I am a Nazi.”
Von Trier had previously been a favorite at Cannes, winning the Jury Prize in 1996 for “Breaking the Waves” and the Palme d’Or four years later for “Dancer in the Dark,” which also brought Best Actress laurels to Björk; Charlotte Gainsbourg took home the same prize in 2009 for her work in “Antichrist.”
“The House That Jack Built” stars Matt Dillon in the title role, a serial killer whose exploits throughout the ’70s the film will follow; Uma Thurman, Sofie Gråbøl, Riley Keough and Bruno Ganz (who, in a cosmic coincidence, played Hitler in “Downfall”) co-star. Wherever the film premieres, entertaining press conferences are sure to follow.