CANNES – Lars von Trier has muzzled himself after Danish police questioned him Wednesday in connection with controversial statements he made at the Cannes Film Festival in May. Police in North Zealand, the region of Denmark where Von Trier lives, questioned him in connection with charges made by French authorities this August. The French are investigating whether von Trier’s statements in Cannes, in which he said he sympathized “a bit” with Hitler and joked about being a Nazi, constitute a violation of French law which proscribes the justification of war crimes. France, like many European countries, has laws forbidding hate speech.
After the police questioning, von Trier issued a statement in which he said he would no longer make public statements or give interviews.
“Due to these serious accusations I have realized 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,” von Trier said.
Von Trier’s self-imposed gag order is the latest twist in a story that started off odd and has become increasingly bizarre. After his shocking statements in Cannes, made during a press conference for his new film, Melancholia, the director was banned from the festival. He had apologized for his comments but took back the apology after the ban.
The usual reticent von Trier didn’t back down from the controversy, giving multiple interviews, including with the Hollywood Reporter. Ahead of Melancholia’s release in Germany this week, von Trier spoke to nearly every major German magazine and newspaper.
The new flare up surrounding the director is unlikely to hurt his film. In fact, it could help Melancholia’s release. The film, starring Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourgand Kiefer Sutherland, goes out on VOD release in the U.S. on Friday. Magnolia Pictures will then do a limited theatrical bow for the film this November.