The Board of Directors of the Festival de Cannes declared Danish director Lars von Trier "persona non grata" throughout the duration of the festival to "immediate effect".
In a statement on Thursday, officials said the festival offers artists worldwide a unique forum to showcase their work and defend freedom of expression and creation, profoundly regretting that this forum was used by Lars Von Trier to express unacceptable, intolerable statements contrary to the ideals of humanity and generosity that govern the very existence of the festival.
"I really wanted to be a Jew and then I found out that I was really a Nazi," the director had kidded on Wednesday during the press presentation of his film Melancholia which is competing for the Palme d'Or.
Asked about his German origins, Lars von Trier had replied: "I understand Hitler. I think he did bad things, of course, but I can imagine sitting in his bunker at the end ... What I mean is that I understand the man. He is not what one might call a good guy, but I understand him and I sympathize a little with him," he added, before declaring: "Okay, I'm a Nazi."
The director later apologized in a statement: "If I have offended anyone by what I said this morning I sincerely apologize. I am neither anti-Semitic nor racist nor a Nazi. I should keep quiet or not come to Cannes, because I'm not used to speaking to so many journalists."
Questioned by AFP, the festival said that von Trier's exclusion means he could in theory still win the Palme d'Or for which his film is in competition but he would not be allowed to attend the ceremony to accept it.
Someone who attended the meeting said the decree meant that von Trier "remains in competition but is asked to be discreet. So, if he wins a prize on Sunday, he's asked not to come and receive it."