Helmer responds saying his comments were 'unintelligent, ambiguous'

Lars von Trier has apologized again for joking about Hitler and being a Nazi, five days after his expulsion from the Cannes Film Festival.

The Danish director issued a statement Tuesday in response to a letter sent to fest prexy Gilles Jacob by Iran’s deputy culture minister for cinematic affairs, Javad Shamaqdari. That letter, published Monday in Iran, said it was “sad to see the traces of fascist behavior” in the Cannes organizers’ decision to expel von Trier.

“Perhaps it is necessary to provide a new definition of freedom of speech for encyclopedias,” Shamaqdari said. “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 response, von Trier blamed himself for being expelled.

“In my opinion, freedom of speech, in all its shapes, is part of the basic human rights,” he said. “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.”

The expulsion was the first in the festival’s 64 years and came in the form of naming the contrarian director persona non grata. His film, “Melancholia,” remained in the running for the Palme d’Or, which was awarded to “Tree of Life.”

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more