Lars Von Trier was forced to take his hunt for black actors to Britain, because hordes of African-American stars refused to play slaves.

MANDERLAY - Von Trier's tale of slavery in the cotton fields of southern America in the 1930s - only attracted three US actors, who he discovered are generally terrified of dredging up a past the superpower would rather forget.

However, the Danish director was relieved the British attitude to the film was far more open-minded - he managed to find nine of his 12 black slaves in the film in the UK.

Von Trier says, "We tried several (Americans) who thought it was a good thing that the films was being made and that it was interesting. But they didn't take part in it because it's explosive stuff in the USA. It's a shame for the coloured (sic) actors if they're only allowed to play heroes. If they aren't allowed to be human too.

"The English actors are completely relaxed about it, and they said 'yes massa' to me every morning. They had a laugh."

And LETHAL WEAPON star DANNY GLOVER - one of three black Americans to commit to the project - echoes Von Trier's frustrations, and has urged the US to stop ignoring a period of its history.

He adds, "It would be extraordinary for (the American) film culture to unravel (slavery) but it doesn't. People are afraid to deal with it."

Manderlay is in contention to win the coveted Palme D'Or at the CANNES FILM FESTIVAL this weekend (21-22MAY05).

17/05/2005 14:04