Cannes: Lars Von Trier's "Disgusting," "Torturous" Film Sparks Walkouts

The director presented his first film at the festival since getting temporarily banned for making Hitler jokes in 2011.

When Lars von Trier walked into the Palais well past 10 p.m. on Monday night, the Danish filmmaker — making his first appearance at the Cannes Film Festival since 2011 when his controversial press conference comments led to a seven-year ban — was greeted by a generous standing ovation. 

The cheers soon turned to groans as several audience members fled for the exits in the middle of von Trier's world premiere of The House that Jack Built, playing out of competition. The film casts Matt Dillon as Jack, a serial killer who views his murders as elaborate works of art. 

Von Trier walked the carpet with Dillon and fellow actors Sofie Grabol, Bruno Ganz and Siobhan Fallon Hogan, and it was his first Palais trip since Melancholia in 2011, when his jokes during the film's press conference about “sympathizing with Hitler” led to him getting temporarily banned. (Uma Thurman and Riley Keough, who also star in House that Jack Built, did not make the trip to Cannes.)

Despite walkouts and groans during a few more brutal scenes, the film received a six-minute long standing ovation in the theater. 

IFC Films is releasing House That Jack Built for the U.S. and earlier in the day dropped the first trailer, in which Dillon is shown going on about several brutal killings, as well as spouting philosophy. At one point, he notes: “Some people claim that the atrocities we commit in our fictions are those inner desires we cannot commit in our controlled civilization. So they are expressed instead through our art. I don't agree. I believe heaven and hell are one and the same. The soul belongs to heaven. And the body to hell.”