Between losing the Palme d'Or to Terrence Malick, being officially declared 'persona non grata' at Cannes for his pro-Hitler comments at the Melancholia press conference, and getting rejected by Kirsten Dunst on the full-length porno film he wanted to make, this has not been a good fortnight for Danish director Lars von Trier. One person who realizes this is Iranian Deputy Culture Minister for Cinematic Affairs Javad Shamaqdar, who released the following letter protesting von Trier's non-gratafication to Arab media outlets Monday.:
Surely you remember that the Cannes festival was established with the aim of struggling against fascists. After 64 years, it is sad to see the traces of fascist behavior in the Cannes organizers’ decision to expel one of the acclaimed European filmmakers… Perhaps it is necessary to provide a new definition of freedom of speech for encyclopedias. Otherwise, the behavior Cannes exhibited toward von Trier by forcing him to apologize several times causes everybody to recall the churches’ medieval treatment of Galileo.
In perhaps the most sensible decision he's made in days, von Trier batted away the deputy culture minister for cinematic affairs' olive branch in the nicest way possible, releasing a statement to the press today:
In connection with the Iranian Vice Minister of Culture Javad Shamaqdari’s letter to the Cannes Film Festival regarding the “Persona non grata” stamping of my personality, I feel called to make the following comment:
In my opinion, freedom of speech, in all its shapes, is part of the basic human rights. However, my comments during the festival’s press conference were unintelligent, ambiguous and needlessly hurtful.
My intended point was that the potential for extreme cruelty, or the opposite, lies within every human being, whatever nationality, ethnicity, rank or religion. If we only explain historical disasters with the cruelty of individuals we destroy the possibility of understanding the human mechanisms, which in turn are necessary in order to avoid any future crimes against humanity.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.