CANNES, France -- The backlash to Lars von Trier's comments about Nazism intensified Thursday, as the Cannes Film Festival declared the director persona non grata at the world's most prestigious cinema gathering, effective immediately.

After Von Trier jokingly said he was a Nazi and more a German than a Jew at a news conference Wednesday, festival organizers issued a statement saying they were "disturbed" by the comments. Then the festival's board of directors convened and returned with a stronger statement Thursday afternoon.

In part, the statement reads: "The festival's board of directors, which held an extraordinary meeting this Thursday, May 19, profoundly regrets that this forum has been used by Lars von Trier to express comments that are unacceptable, intolerable, and contrary to the ideals of humanity and generosity that preside over the very existence of the Festival."