EXCLUSIVE: Lars von Trier was never declared ‘persona non grata’ forever, says Cannes Film Festival chief Thierry Fremaux

The disappointing news that Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac would not be ready for Cannes broke weeks ago but that has not stopped speculation over whether the Danish director would have been welcome at the festival.

Palme d’Or winner was famously declared ‘persona non grata’ by Cannes’ board of directors during the 2011 festival after calling himself a Nazi and saying that he “sympathised with Hitler a little bit” during the press conference for Melancholia.

At the time, the festival released a statement that said: “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.”

The festival has never talked about von Trier in an official capacity since but it seems the ban could be coming to an end.

Quizzed about von Trier’s status by ScreenDaily after the festival’s annual press conference on Thursday, artistic director Thierry Fremaux said: “Lars von Trier was declared ‘persona non grata’ for the festival of 2011… That means that he was declared ‘persona non grata’ for 2011 and was never declared ‘persona non grata’ forever.

“We didn’t see his film because it wasn’t ready. The day he has a film ready in time for Cannes we will talk about him again.”

Click here for full Q&A with Fremaux

Those close to von Trier certainly seem to think the director, who has had nine films in Competition in Cannes since 1984, will be back at the Palais in the not distant future.

One industry source close to the filmmaker told ScreenDaily:  “I am absolutely certain they would take him. I don’t think that’s the problem. The signals that we get from Cannes are that they absolutely adore Lars. Lars is Cannes and Cannes is Lars. They were made for each other. It’d take more than what he did to be excluded forever. They are searching for good and ground-breaking films.”

Lars von Trier
Cannes Competition filmography

  • 1984 The Element of Crime (Technical Grand Prize)
  • 1991 Europa (Best Artistic Contribution, Jury Prize, Technical Grand Prize)
  • 1996 Breaking the Waves (Grand Prix)
  • 1998 The Idiots
  • 2000 Dancer in the Dark (Palme d’Or)
  • 2003 Dogville
  • 2005 Manderlay
  • 2009 Antichrist
  • 2011 Melancholia

Click here for the full Cannes 2013 line-up