×

Producer: Lars von Trier driven to provoke

Aalbaek Jensen predicts Nazi comments won't do lasting damage

Peter Aalbaek Jensen, Lars von Trier’s producing partner for the past 20 years, had been having a great Cannes up until the press conference for their competish film, “Melancholia,” on Wednesday, when Von Trier said he was a Nazi and expressed sympathy for Adolf Hitler, prompting the fest to declare him a persona non grata.

In terms of sales for their slate of projects, it had been the best Cannes in years for their company, Zentropa, which they set up in 1992, the year after their collaboration on Cannes Jury prize winner “Europa.”

“That Wednesday, we had all been celebrating, thinking that all we had to do was find the cufflinks and put on the tuxedo,” Aalbaek Jensen told Variety.

Just before the presser, Aalbaek Jensen met Von Trier and they agreed that, for the first time in years, they had a film that they both really believed had a good chance of winning an award.

“We agreed to play it as nice and easy as possible, and not to jeopardize the chance of a prize by trying to be too funny. That was the last thing we spoke about,” Aalbaek Jensen said.

As Aalbaek Jensen watched Von Trier from across the room at the press conference, he had sensed that trouble lay ahead.

“I could see he wasn’t on top of the situation,” he said. “He was in deep shit there. I know that look.”

After the event ended, Aalbaek Jensen asked Von Trier, “What the hell! What kind of interpretation of our deal was that?”

However, the producer knows Von Trier’s wayward ways all too well.

“He has, you could say, a light Tourette’s Syndrome,” he says. “When there is something he is not supposed to say, it seems to drive him to say it.”

Despite the trouble Von Trier’s words caused, Aalbaek Jensen is sticking by his partner.

“He said something stupid, but he is not someone who suddenly in the dark night has revealed himself as an anti-Semite. It is just Lars von Trier trying to be funny in his own quirky way,” he said.

Although it is too early to tell for sure, Aalbaek Jensen doesn’t believe there will be any lasting damage done to “Melancholia” and Zentropa.

“I have been in contact with most of our (distribution and co-production) partners and, thank God, they are happy about the movie,” he said.

“And, with all the international press here, (Von Trier) has had the opportunity to explain himself.”

Despite all that has happened, Aalbaek Jensen remains positive.

“The market has been extremely good,” he said. “People are buying, and the prices are back to where they were before the crisis. They are a lot of really good projects around, and positive buyers. There are reasons to be cheerful.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • The Laundromat Netflix

    Court Refuses to Block Netflix Release of 'The Laundromat'

    A judge has refused to block the release of “The Laundromat,” a Netflix film based on the Panama Papers scandal. Jurgen Mossack and Ramon Fonseca — the attorneys at the center of the scandal — filed suit in federal court in Connecticut on Tuesday, claiming they were defamed by the film. The attorneys asked for [...]

  • The Captain

    Film Review: ‘The Captain’

    Tense and exciting when it finally gets airborne, Chinese disaster movie “The Captain” is an effective tribute to those who saved the day when the cockpit window of a Sichuan Airlines flight shattered over the Tibetan Plateau on May 14, 2018. Capably assembled by Hong Kong director Andrew Lau (the “Infernal Affairs” trilogy), “The Captain” [...]

  • Fall Out Boy - Patrick StumpLeeds

    Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump to Release 'Spell' Soundtrack, Hear First Single Here

    Fall Out Boy frontman Patrick Stump continues his extensive work in the film/TV soundtrack realm with the release of “Spell,” which comes on Nov. 1 on Milan Records through Sony Music Masterworks. The soundtrack features Stump’s music from Crush Pictures’ psych-thriller, including the ballad “Deep Blue Love.” a soulful, blues-tinged ballad performed by Stump and [...]

  • Tell Me Who I Am

    Film Review: 'Tell Me Who I Am'

    Amnesia has been so overused in movies — a convenient narrative device that effectively forces characters to become detectives into their own past — that it’s startling to encounter a film in which someone really does lose his memory. What’s doubly fascinating about the true-life case of Alex Lewis, in which the surprises just keep on coming, [...]

  • Cyrano, My Love

    Film Review: 'Cyrano, My Love' ('Edmond')

    As fizzy as a freshly poured glass of Perrier-Jouët, though considerably less complex, writer-director Alexis Michalik’s “Cyrano, My Love” . Part fancifully fictional account of the play’s conception, and part “Waiting for Guffman”-style depiction of the wild antics behind its first production, “Cyrano” was released in France earlier this year, and its undemanding immersion into [...]

  • Barney

    Barney the Dinosaur Movie in the Works From Mattel Films and Daniel Kaluuya

    Mattel Films, Daniel Kaluuya’s 59% banner and Valparaiso Pictures are partnering to develop a live-action motion picture based on Barney, Mattel’s iconic purple dinosaur. “Working with Daniel Kaluuya will enable us to take a completely new approach to ‘Barney’ that will surprise audiences and subvert expectations,” said Mattel Films’ Robbie Brenner. “The project will speak [...]

  • Film Republic Sells Svetla Tsotsorkova's 'Sister'

    Film Republic Sells Svetla Tsotsorkova's 'Sister' to China, France (EXCLUSIVE)

    Svetla Tsotsorkova’s second feature film “Sister,” which played at the San Sebastian and London film festivals, has been picked up by Hualu in China and Tamasa in France. World sales are handled by Xavier Henry-Rashid’s Film Republic. The film, set in a small town in present-day Bulgaria, centers on a mother and her two daughters, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content