HE’S BAAAACK! Lars Von Trier’s “The House that Jack Built” will be shown at the Cannes Festival this year, helping to deliver a shot in the arm, a mixture of adrenaline and steroids, to the official selection. Seven years ago, Von Trier was ejected from the Cannes Festival after fumbling his way, with devil-may-care indecency, through a Q&A with the press following the screening of his film “Melancholia.”
I hadn’t attended that particular press conference but I watched it, afterwards, and couldn’t believe what I saw and heard. Was Lars Von Trier really declaring his sympathy for Hitler? I’m one of those people who believes that there are few sacred topics out there, ones that you don’t mess with, not a bit. No innuendos, no humor and no clumsiness allowed. The duty to transmit the memory of the devastation of the Shoah belongs to all of civilized humanity, ad eternum. I was all the more saddened at discovering the Danish filmmaker’s horrendous faux pas, since Von Trier is, in my opinion, deserving of being called a genius.
What followed the Q&A fracas was an executive decision by the Cannes Festival. With Gilles Jacob at the helm (the same Gilles Jacob who hid behind a piano to avoid being sent to the camps during WWII) and the festival’s board of advisors, a fatwa was issued against Lars Von Trier, banning him from the festival indefinitely.
Time healing all, in the leadup to this year’s festival, Pierre Lescure, who replaced Jacob at the helm in 2014, negotiated with various parties to help finesse Von Trier’s comeback to the Croisette, leading to today’s rousing announcement from the Festival.
“The house that jack built” is being billed as a horror thriller. It stars Matt Dillon, in the role of a serial killer, and Uma Thurman. The film, which also stars Bruno Ganz, was shot in Sweden and Denmark.
Lars von Trier was deeply influenced by the films of Andrei Tarkovsky.
Several other films have been added to the official selection: the much-awaited “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote,” directed by Terry Gilliam, was announced as this year’s closing film, the directorial debut of a filmmaker named Yann Gonzalez, “Knife + Heart,” stars Vanessa Paradis, Sergey Dvortsevoy’s “Ayka,” the return of Nuri Bilge Ceylan, winner of the Palme D’Or for his 2014 “Winter Sleep,” with “Ahlat Agaci” (“The Wild pear tree”). A documentary by Kevin McDonald, “Whitney,” about the life of Whitney Houston, has been added as a Midnight Screening. Another Midnight screening is “Fahrenheit 451,” by Iranian-American filmmaker Ramin Bahrani.
Over in the Un Certain Regard program, “Donbass,” by Sergey Loznitsa, “Muere, Monstruo, Muere,” by Alejandro Fadel, and “Chuva E Cantoria Na Aldeia Dos Mortos” (“The dead and others”) by Joao Salaviza and Renée Nader Messora, have been added, too.