Two years ago, Cannes Film Festival head Thierry Frémaux declared Lars von Trier “persona non grata” after the director’s post-Melancholia press conference, where he fumbled through a comment about understanding and slightly sympathizing with Hitler. Later, Frémaux walked back his comments, saying that status only applied for one year. “That controversy was as stupid as what Lars said,” he said today at the Film Bazaar in Goa, India. “I told him that he made a bad joke, but that the controversy was unfair.”
“Do we dream to have Lars von Trier back at Cannes? Yes we do,” Frémaux said. But he won’t be returning with Nymphomaniac, since the film will be opening in Spain and Denmark on Christmas day. Cannes competition slots are reserved for world premières, though there’s nothing to stop the festival from showing the film out of competition. Frémaux added that he considers von Trier “a friend,” and that the two men “share views on cinema.”
The Nymphomaniac comments were just part of Frémaux’s remarks, which included a strong warning about how “countries need to protect their cinema because of American cinema.” Noting that “the market is always for the benefit of American cinema,” he urged vigilance: “When a country pays attention to its cinema, the cinema will pay attention to the country.” His list of countries currently nurturing their film countries adequately: Mexico, South Korea, Lebanon, Israel, China, Romania and (“a little,” he hedged) India.