FaithWorld

Witch hunt or wise move? Cannes ponders expulsion over Nazi “joke”

(Director Lars Von Trier arrives on the red carpet for the screening of the film "Melancholia" in competition at the 64th Cannes Film Festival, May 18, 2011/Jean-Paul Pelissier)

Witch hunt or wise decision? That was the question on the lips of movie-goers, critics and executives at the Cannes film festival after the sudden expulsion of Danish director Lars Von Trier. The annual cinema showcase is the world’s biggest and well-known as a haven for provocative voices like Von Trier’s. But organizers clearly decided the 55-year-old director had overstepped the mark when he jokingly told the world press on Wednesday that he was a Nazi who sympathized with Hitler.

And while the festival cracked down on Von Trier within 24 hours, revoking his accreditation, reaction was more divided from the crowd on the famous palm-lined Riviera waterfront. “I’m against the decision. Everyone here is on two hours’ sleep and anyone can say something stupid at a press conference. He apologized and that was enough,” said 20-something filmmaker Christophe Monsourian.

At Wednesday’s bizarre press conference, Von Trier, in Cannes to talk about his movie “Melancholia,” launched into a rambling monologue about his Jewish/German heritage before making the remarks that forced his exit. He jokingly said he was a Nazi, sympathized with Hitler “a little bit,” deemed Israel a “pain in the ass” and muttered the phrase “the final solution for journalists.”

Cannes normally thrives on controversy and scandal, as when Von Trier brought his ultra-violent, sexually explicit “Antichrist” to the festival two years ago that prompted jeers at the press screening.

Freudian take on Vatican life makes Cannes film festival smile

(Director Nanni Moretti (C) and cast members Margherita Buy (R) and Michel Piccoli pose as they arrive on the red carpet for the screening of the film "Habemus Papam" (We Have A Pope) in competition at the 64th Cannes Film Festival May 13, 2011/Eric Gaillard )

(Director Nanni Moretti (C) and cast members Margherita Buy (R) and Michel Piccoli pose as they arrive on the red carpet for the screening of the film "Habemus Papam" (We Have A Pope) in competition at the 64th Cannes Film Festival May 13, 2011/Eric Gaillard )

The Vatican got a dose of Freudian analysis at Cannes on Friday with “Habemus Papam,” a gentle Italian comedy about a newly elected pope who gets cold feet when the weight of his responsibility dawns on him. The film by Italian director Nanni Moretti drew laughter and healthy applause from critics on day three of the Cannes film festival, where the official selection of movies has so far leaned in the direction of dark realism and social commentary.

Farcical and humane, Habemus Papam (We Have a Pope) casts wide open the door of the notoriously secretive Holy See, as red-robed cardinals converge in a locked chamber to elect a pope under the expectant gaze of millions of Catholics. When the votes are counted and white smoke billows from the Vatican’s dome, the pope-elect played by French actor Michel Piccoli, 85, is led to a balcony to address the faithful — only to freeze up before his momentous task, paralyzed by anxiety.

Religion-themed films take top prizes at Cannes Film Festival

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Apichatpong Weerasethakul (in white) and cast member Wallapa Mongkolprasert at the screening of ''Lung Boonmee Raluek Chat'' (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall his Past Lives) in Cannes on May 21, 2010/Yves Herman

A Buddhist-inspired Thai film has won the coveted Palme d’Or for best picture at the Cannes film festival. “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives,” a mystical exploration of reincarnation as a well-to-do farmer confronts his imminent death, was directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

Xavier Beauvois’ “Of Gods and Men,” based on the real-life story of seven Catholic monks murdered during unrest in Algeria in the 1990s, took the runner-up Grand Prix award at the closing session on Sunday.