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Actor Willem Dafoe signs autographs as he arrives at the "Antichrist" film gala at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 11, 2009.


It wasn't business as usual at the TIFF press conference for Lars von Trier's horror drama Antichrist, which was held at the Scotiabank Theatre. First, the director wasn't in the room - von Trier is famously afraid of flying, so he appeared on the theatre screen via Skype. Second, von Trier wasn't exactly in his body, either. He stammered, sighed deeply and repeatedly, his hands shook. He appeared to be having trouble catching his breath and putting sentences together. Quickly, he admitted to the crowd that he is suffering from anxiety and depression, that the film is a manifestation of his anxieties and fears, and that, "I've been drinking a lot every day and not doing any yoga at all."

He referred a lot of questions to his leading man, Willem Dafoe (in the picture above), who was in the room - he plays a therapist whose attempts to help his wife (Charlotte Gainsbourg) through her grief after their son's death take a grisly turn. Von Trier also began most of the answers he did attempt by saying, "I don't really remember, maybe it's because of my depression."

At one point the Skype connection was lost; the theatre screen went white and stayed that was for several minutes, and everyone in the audience seemed to fear the worst. "This is a horrible feeling," Dafoe said.

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When the connection was restored, von Trier joked, "That other guy that was here before was not Lars von Trier. I'm me." But he turned dark again almost immediately, when asked about whether his movie offered any hope.

"I'm not so crazy about hope in stories," he said. "I was in group therapy today surrounded by all these crazy people, and we were asked to say one positive thing that happened to us this week." He paused. "I couldn't come up with one. I was kind of thrown out of group."

When asked what he fears most, von Trier answered, "It probably has to do with not being here [alive]" Then he sighed one last time. "Then again, not being here sounds nice right now."

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