Well, in lieu of recent events at the Cannes Film Festival I thought I'd share my insight on the controversy.
I generally try to keep up with films, screenings, events, and what not at the festival. Honestly, I dream of one day attending Cannes myself. I like to get a feel of what films to look for and which ones to avoid based on various reviews. This year, there has been much buzz about Terence Malick's TREE OF LIFE and Lars Von Trier's MELANCHOLIA. Even Eli Roth compared the two to Billy Mitchell & Steve Wiebe from KING OF KONG. I indeed look forward to watching both films. In the last couple years, Von Trier has slowly crept into my Top Favorite Directors list. After getting swept away by ANTICHRIST, I believe his vision cannot be matched.
It appears that Lars Von Trier is now banned from the Cannes film festival. While doing a Q & A for MELANCHOLIA, Von Trier made a couple jokes about Nazis. Nazis aren't necessarily something you joke about, but it's also no reason to completely eradicate someone. I don't agree with any of his statements, but I think the jury and press are being way too harsh on Von Trier. MELANCHOLIA is still allowed to compete for the coveted Palme d'Or, but Von Trier is not allowed to accept if it wins.
Let's address the real issue here: censorship! Why is it that every other artistic community is able to express themselves as they please except for cinema? Painters, singers, musicians, and photographers have the freedom and creative control to portray their ideas however they choose. Film has got to be the most draconian artistic outlet. How often do you hear about certain films bouncing back and forth between filmmakers and the MPAA over censorship? We end up with multiple versions of a particular film: special edition, alternate ending, unrated, director's cut! Is all this necessary? Of course part of it is a marketing ploy, but when I watch a film, I want to want it in its entirety. I want to watch it the way it was intended, not spliced and butchered. Some people watch movies to escape their mundane lives. I watch films to be challenged, scared, and enlightened. I want to be taken somewhere I've never been and see things I have never seen or thought. This is why I respect and champion filmmakers who have the courage to continuously push the envelope.
How about Roman Polanski? Another one of my favorite directors that I will defend to the death. Here's a man who is celebrated in France, but in the US he's a fugitive. Don't get me started on his bogus trial/judge in Los Angeles because that was an insult to the justice system. I mean the man gave us CHINATOWN and he is still not allowed on American soil. I applaud him for managing to complete THE GHOST WRITER while incarcerated.
Then there's the trial in Spain accusing the director of Sitges Film Festival of screening child pornography. This is a man who is not even related to the film A SERBIAN FILM, but merely screened it for an audience of willing adults. Just for the record, the film is far from anything child pornographic. This film is not just torture porn, it's a testament about the desperation certain countries endure. It's not a life changing film, but it's one person's art and it deserves respect. We as an audience deserve the chance to make our own assumptions about it.
If you may remember, Von Trier caused much controversy two years ago with ANTICHRIST. This was a film he made while in a severe pit of depression and this film was his way of coping. People were so disturbed by the film that half the audience walked out. This whole uproar only enhanced my longing to see the film! Von Trier was accused of being a misogynist as a result of the film. I completely disagree; he examined the darkest realms of a woman's psyche the best he knew how to. The outcome was a beautifully disturbing piece of art. People asked him how he could create something so demoralizing and his only reply was that he made films for himself and no one else. I can't think of a more narcissistic response but there is truth in it.
I don't believe for a second that Von Trier is a Nazi or racist; he's only guilty of being eccentric. So what if he declared himself the "best director in the world." At least he has the balls to argue that. Von Trier enjoys being the antagonist and arousing people. I do however believe Ridley Scott is racist, after all he did make fun of an African woman's breasts. Yet no one has banned him for any film festivals or the very least ban him from creating anymore shitty remakes. And let's not start comparing Lars to Mel Gibson. At least Von Trier still has some talent left and has yet to make a film about beavers. If anything this whole saga will only create more press for MELANCHOLIA which I have been anticipating for several months now.
There's a select few filmmakers in this world that make art and not just movies. Many people (especially in the US) make films just for profit. Honestly, where is the art in shit like SAW 9 , BRIDESMAIDS, and THE FASTEST & FURRIEST 5? Though, this is the crap that's continuously pumped out in America. Why are people like Zack Snyder and Michael Bay still employed? Let's start censoring the real enemies like Palin, Sheen, Beck, Kobe, and Jersey Shore. These are the real poisons in the world not the Polanskis, Von Triers, Tarantinos, and David Lynches.
I appreciate the fact that I live in a city that celebrates Independent Film. I realize if I lived in Smalltown, USA, I would not be able to enjoy most of the films I watch. I try to do my best to support Independent Film (RIP Dobie) and so should you. Also, if you liken me to a film snob, then you're absolutely right. If you have an aversion to that, then you can think of me the next time you watch DUDE WHERE'S MY CAR.