Lars von Trier makes vow of silence after Cannes furore

Controversial director Lars von Trier issues a statement refusing all future interviews after police question him over his apparent defence of Hitler at the Cannes film festival

The film-maker Lars von Trier has issued a statement saying that he will no longer give any more statements or interviews.

Von Trier, whose career has long mixed controversy and cinematic excellence, explained in a brief press release that his decision followed an interrogation by police investigating whether his remarks at the Cannes film festival earlier this year, in which he appeared to sympathise with Adolf Hitler, contravened French legislation.

Through the publicists for his latest film, Melancholia, the director said he had been questioned on Wednesday by police in the Danish district of North Zealand "in connection with charges made by the prosecution of Grasse in France from August 2011 regarding a possible violation of prohibition in French law against justification of war crimes … Due to these serious accusations I have realised that I do not possess the skills to express myself unequivocally and I have therefore decided from this day forth to refrain from all public statements and interviews."

The fallout from von Trier's declaration that he could "understand" the Nazi leader is now in its fifth month. The remarks were made in response to a question about his German heritage after the first press screening of Melancholia. Festival officials condemned his remarks, prompting von Trier to backtrack over his comments. But the festival nonetheless declared him "persona non grata", and barred him from future festivals, to a mixed response from delegates.

The director apologised twice for any offence caused, but a fortnight ago appeared to retract some of his expressions of remorse, and said earlier apologies were forced and untrue to his feelings. He told GQ magazine: "It's not true. I'm not sorry. I am not sorry for what I said. I'm sorry that it didn't come out more clearly. I'm not sorry that I made a joke. But I'm sorry that I didn't make it clear that it was a joke."

The statement appears to build on the sense conveyed in that interview that his personal integrity would be in jeopardy were he to atone for views he does reluctantly hold.

Melancholia, a diptych family drama set against the backdrop of the end of the world, was released in the UK last Friday to lukewarm reviews. The Guardian's film critic, Peter Bradshaw, found it "entirely ridiculous [and] often quite boring" while on the Observer, Philip French dismissed it as narcissistic and humourless.

Von Trier and his cast have promoted the film with vim and energy in the weeks leading up to release. The director's statement, if true, will mean that he has at least gone out with a bang. In his last UK interview, given to BBC Radio 3's Night Waves, the director discussed making a calendar of Björk's menstrual cycle during the shooting of Dancer in the Dark, his desire to be homosexual and a career spent "running around with a camera between the tits of very young women".


Catherine Shoard

The GuardianTramp

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