Update at 9:30 PST:
Lars von Trier responded to his ban from the Cannes Film Festival, saying: "I'm very proud of being persona non grata. I've never been that before in my life, and that suits me extremely well."
Read also: Lars von Trier Responds: 'I'm Not Mel Gibson'
The Cannes Film Festival took the extraordinary step of banning filmmaker Lars von Trier in the wake of his remarks expressing sympathy for Hitler and Nazism.
The board of directors of the festival issued the following statement on Thursday:
“The Festival de Cannes provides artists from around the world with an exceptional forum to present their works and defend freedom of expression and creation. The Festival’s Board of Directors, which held an extraordinary meeting this Thursday 19 May 2011, profoundly regrets that this forum has been used by Lars Von Trier to express comments that are unacceptable, intolerable, and contrary to the ideals of humanity and generosity that preside over the very existence of the Festival.
"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."
At a press conference on Wednesday, the Danish filmmaker made half-joking, though still shocking remarks expressing sympathy for Hitler and Nazis, as his star, Kirsten Dunst, looked on uncomfortably.
Referring to Hitler, Von Trier said: "I think I understand the man. He’s not what I would call a good guy, but I understand much about him, and I sympathize with him a little. But come on – I’m not for the Second World War. And I’m not against Jews – (Jewish filmmaker) Susanne Biers, no not even Susanne Bier – that was also a joke."
Here is the video from the moment that created a storm of protest in its wake. Von Trier did apologize later in the day.
Ironically the film has garnered some of the best reviews of the festival, from EW's Lisa Schwarzbaum calling it "a moving masterpiece, marked by an astonishing profundity of vision" to Peter Bradshaw's "a giggling aria of pretend pain and faux rapture."
According to a spokesperson for the festival, "Melancholia" remains in contention for festival prizes, including the Palme d'Or, but von Trier cannot attend the ceremony if it wins.