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Lars von Trier Banned From Cannes For Anti-Semitic Comments

Lars von Trier Banned From Cannes For Anti-Semitic Comments (photo)

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It began with a film about the end of the world. Now it’s the end of Cannes for one filmmaker.

In the wake of his anti-Semitic comments (or just really tasteless anti-Semitic jokes), director Lars von Trier has been banned from the Cannes Film Festival. Here is Cannes’ official statement on the subject:

“The Festival de Cannes provides artists from around the world with an exceptional forum to present their works and defend freedom of expression and creation. The Festival’s Board of Directors, which held an extraordinary meeting this Thursday 19 May 2011, profoundly regrets that this forum has been used by Lars von Trier to express comments that are unacceptable, intolerable, and contrary to the ideals of humanity and generosity that preside over the very existence of the Festival.

The Board of Directors firmly condemns these comments and declares Lars von Trier a persona non grata at the Festival de Cannes, with effect immediately.”

This despite the fact that von Trier had already issued an apology for the remarks, which came at the Cannes press conference for his new apocalyptic film “Melancholia.” Steven Zeitchik from The Los Angeles Times got further apology and explanation during his interview with von Trier:

“I’m really sincere when I say I don’t really know what hit me. I can understand if you take things out of context. This was very sarcastic and very rude, but that’s very Danish. I’m very sorry that it’s being taken the wrong way… I must say that I believe strongly that the Holocaust is the worst crime against humanity ever, and I do not sympathize with Hitler one second.”

von Trier definitely went too far with his first comments, but now we have to wonder: did Cannes go too far with its response? What von Trier said was titanically stupid; even if it wasn’t meant seriously (and I don’t believe it was) it has to be one of the worst jokes in history. And this wasn’t something said privately to a friend within earshot of a journalist, it was said at a scheduled press conference in front of basically the entirety of the international film press. To say something like that, in a place like that, even to provoke, is so dumb that to some degree von Trier deserves whatever punishment he gets.

But as many point out — as Cannes’ own press statement points out — Cannes is supposed to be a place dedicated to free expression. And within 24 hours of von Trier’s awful comments, Cannes welcomed Mel Gibson — no stranger to awful comments himself — to walk their famous red carpet in support of his movie “The Beaver.” Gibson has a history of anti-Semitism; so why is he okay and von Trier is not? It can’t be because he apologized; von Trier apologized too. Or what about a filmmaker like Roman Polanski, who hasn’t simply said controversial things; he’s been convicted of committing actual crimes. But he’s welcome at Cannes; his film, “The Pianist” (about the Holocaust, he says, bringing things full circle) played the festival in 2002.

I was pretty offended by von Trier’s comments, to paraphrase a line from “Seinfeld,” less as a Jew than as a comedian. I said yesterday I didn’t expect an apology; but we already got one. It’s not like he apologized while getting a swastika tattooed on his forehead or something. von Trier may not be the best public speaker, but he is one of the best filmmakers, and I don’t think he or his films are truly anti-Semitic. He doesn’t deserve to be banned from the Cannes Film Festival. So here’s a compromise: ban him from having any more dumb press conferences, and let the movies speak for themselves.

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Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

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Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

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You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

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Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

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Put A Bird On It

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Colin the Chicken

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Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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