Claiming you're a Nazi: It's a tried-and-true way of losing friends and alienating people.
Acclaimed independent Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier found out the hard way when he was expelled today from the Cannes Film Festival for joking at a Wednesday news conference that he was a Nazi and understood Adolf Hitler. His film, "Melancholia," is in competition at the festival and might have a shot at the top prize.
In response to a question about his Germanic roots, Trier gave a long-winded answer that he might have meant to be tongue-in-cheek but came off in bad taste.
"For a long time, I thought I was a Jew and I was happy to be a Jew," he said. "But then I found out I was actually a Nazi. My family were German. And that also gave me some pleasure. 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. ... I understand much about him and I sympathize with him a bit."
He went on: "I'm not for the second World War and I'm not against Jews. ... 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 question?"
After throwing around a few more non-sequiturs, he found his conclusion: "OK, I'm a Nazi."
Kirsten Dunst, one of the stars of the film, grew visibly uncomfortable sitting next to Trier. (She had her own personal moment of embarrassment when Trier explained the moodiness of her character in "Melancholia" by referring to her battle with depression: "I would say Kirsten, thank God, has some knowledge of depression. We talked a lot about how things should look and I think she is doing extremely well.")
While a Wednesday night screening of "Melancholia" was met with applause, after-parties for the film were reportedly canceled because of Trier's comments. He was officially booted from the festival this morning.
In a statement on the film festival's website, Cannes' board of directors said it "profoundly regrets" Trier's comments, "firmly condemns" them and "declares Lars von Trier a persona non grata at the Festival de Cannes, with effect immediately."
A festival representative told the New York Times that "Melancholia" will remain in the competition.