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ADL, Cannes, Dunst weigh in as Lars von Trier apologizes for Nazi comment

From left, Brady Corbet, Stellan Skarsgard, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Lars Von Trier, Kirsten Dunst, John Hurt, Udo Kier and Jesper Christensen, May 18, 2011, in Cannes. Getty

(CBS) The reactions to director Lars von Trier's announcement, "I'm a Nazi," are in. They range from disappointed to dispassionate to confused.

And they have resulted in an apology from the Danish director who denied that he is either a Nazi or antiSemitic.

Pictures: Cannes Film Festival 2011

While at a press conference for his film "Melancholia," which is in competition at the Cannes Film Festival, a reporter asks von Trier, "Can you talk a bit about your German roots and the Gothic aspect of this film, and also you mentioned in a Danish film magazine also about you're interested in the Nazi aesthetic and you talked about that, German roots, at the same time. Can you tell us a bit more about that?"

The director launches into a long, rambling, sometimes incoherent response (watch the video here - the question is in the final few minutes) about how he always thought he was a Jew and then decided over time that he wasn't and why. And then he says he understands Hitler.

At some points during his answer, he seems to be trying to give a thoughtful response to the question. At other times, he's making jokes - or seems to want to make a joke of what rapidly becomes an uncomfortable few minutes. (Read one of von Trier's answers here.)

At one point, Kirsten Dunst, seated at von Trier's left, says, "Oh God, this is terrible," with an I-can't-believe-this-is-happening laugh.

The Cannes Film Festival responded to von Trier's comments, issuing a statement that reads in part, "The director states that he let himself be egged on by a provocation," according to the The Hollywood Reporter. "The Festival acknowledges this and is passing on Lars von Trier's apology. The Festival is adamant that it would never allow the event to become the forum for such pronouncements on such subjects."

THR reports von Trier issued an apology, saying, "If I have hurt someone this morning by the words I said at the press conference, I sincerely apologize." He also said, "I am not antisemitic or racially prejudiced in any way, nor am I a Nazi."

The Anti-Defamation League talked to THR about von Trier's statements with a mix of disappointment and bemusement. "He seems to be struggling with some personal ghosts," Abraham H. Foxman, the ADL's national director, tells The Hollywood Reporter. "This is one way I guess, he resolved them, in a very, very bizarre way."

Later on, he says, "It's a bizarre outburst. I don't know what to make of it[.]"

Foxman said he would not advise a boycott of "Melancholia."

What do you make of von Trier's comments? Let us know.

Watch the press conference here.

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