Lars Von Trier Calls Cannes Hitler Remarks 'Unintelligent, Needlessly Hurtful'

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He fires off a new statement after Iran's deputy culture minister blasts the festival for banning the "Melancholia" director.

Melancholia director Lars von Trier shouldn't have been banned from the Cannes Film Festival for saying he sympathized with Adolf Hitler, Iran says.

Deputy culture minister Javad Shamaqdari has penned a letter to festival president Gilles Jacob stating that Cannes "had smirched its history by expelling the director," writes the Associated Press.

Von Trier stirred controversy last week during a press conference for his latest film. With actress Kirsten Dunst sitting awkwardly next to him, the director told reporters that he could "sympathize a little bit" with Hitler. He later apologized, claiming it was all just a joke.

In response to the Iranian letter, von Trier issued a statement of his own Tuesday. It read:

"In connection with the Iranian Vice Minister of Culture Javad Shamaqdari’s letter to the Cannes Film Festival regarding the “Persona non grata” stamping of my personality, I feel called to make the following comment:
In my opinion, freedom of speech, in all its shapes, is part of the basic human rights.  However, my comments during the festival’s press conference were unintelligent, ambiguous and needlessly hurtful.

"My intended point was that the potential for extreme cruelty, or the opposite, lies within every human being, whatever nationality, ethnicity, rank or religion.  If we only explain historical disasters with the cruelty of individuals we destroy the possibility  of understanding the human mechanisms, which in turn are necessary in order to avoid any future crimes against humanity.”

Despite von Trier's Nazi remarks, his film - about a wedding gone bad - received some Cannes accolades: Kirsten Dunst took home the best actress honors.