Lars Von Trier Continues Defending Nazi Comments in Berlin

P34/Zuma Press/Newscom

"History shows that we are all Nazis somewhere," the controversial director tells an audience at a retrospective of his films.

Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier was in Berlin on Saturday for a 90-minute public Q&A during a retrospective of his films at Kino Babylon, one of Berlin's foremost repertory cinemas.

The subject of Trier being banned in May from the Cannes Film Festival for admitting that he sympathized with Hitler inevitably came up, of course, and he peppered the evening with outrageous asides about the Cannes incident. “Some German journalists interviewed me, and I told them the French are the real Nazis, and they really liked that,” he said, most likely alluding to France's policy of expelling Gypsies.

Nevertheless, he qualified his Cannes Nazi remarks with the following:

“There was a point to this whole thing. I think history shows that we are all Nazis somewhere, and there are a lot of things that can be suddenly set free, and the mechanics behind this setting-free is something we really should really investigate, and the way we do not investigate it is to make it a taboo to talk about it.”

Trier said he has received no indication that the Cannes ban would be lifted, although he expressed hope it would be. A panelist suggested that Trier could come to the Berlin Film Festival instead, and Trier enthusiastically agreed, but tempered it by saying, “But they say that Berlin Film Festival audiences are so cruel.”

The night before, the Babylon hosted two packed preview screenings of Trier's latest film Melancholia, more than month before the film's German theatrical release and U.S. video-on-demand release.

FILM REVIEW: Melancholia

In response to an audience question about casting Kiefer Sutherland, Trier explained, “He, like other very naïve souls, called me and asked me, 'Can I be in your film?' and I said, of course, it's a fantastic idea, and he was great. I think that it's somehow funny how he rescues the Earth in every episode [of 24], so I thought it would be interesting that he didn't save the world.”

Trier's plans include another Five Obstructions film with Martin Scorsese remaking one of his films five times with five different constraints, as well as a sexually explicit exploration of female sexuality, called Nymphomaniac.

The future of the Scorsese project is unclear. “Marty is busy and so am I, and I don't know if it will happen – I sincerely hope it will,” Trier said.

Nymphomaniac – I'm writing, and I'm having such a great time,” he said. “I'm talking to all the ladies I knew when I was young, who are now 50 and 60, and if you take a woman of 50 or 60 who has been sexually active, they will talk for hours. And this is fantastic, it's a pleasure and I smile all the way, and that's why I want to extend the research time. You have no idea how dirty the female mind is!”