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CANNES 2022 Competition

Ruben Östlund • Director of Triangle of Sadness

“I’ll be a much better father now than I would have been, had I not been entered in the main competition at Cannes this year”

by 

- The 2017 Palme d’Or winner shares a few choice titbits of information about his new film, freshly selected for Cannes

Ruben Östlund • Director of Triangle of Sadness
(© Sina Östlund)

As Ruben Östlund yet again starts to adjust his bow tie, the 2017 Palme d’Or winner shares a few remarks only an hour after his new film, Triangle of Sadness [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Ruben Östlund
interview: Ruben Östlund
film profile
]
, was announced for the main competition at the 75th edition of the Cannes International Film Festival (see the news).

Cineuropa: Congratulations. What were your thoughts when you received the news?
Ruben Östlund:
It’s a great relief, thank you very much. We submitted the film in late March… Then there was the wait, which was thoroughly nerve-wracking... You hear various rumours that may raise your spirits, then your mood sinks again. And then, yes – goal fulfilled. This one’s been extra important to me, as the expectations have been enormous and the money involved is bigger. In all, it was significant pressure.

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Triangle of Sadness is your fifth Cannes entry. Was the process around the previous selections different or similar?
Well, first of all, it’s usually on my birthday that we sit there, eagerly anticipating the verdict. So every year I’ve had a film up for selection, I’ve been unable to enjoy my day or spend time with my family; instead, I’ve nervously worn down the floor, which kind of sucks. Apart from that, it’s been different every time. We’ve heard “unofficially” that we’re in, and then it’s turned out that we’re in a side section. I was really disappointed that Play [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Ruben Östlund
interview: Ruben Ostlund
film profile
]
didn’t make it all the way, much like Force Majeure [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Ruben Östlund
film profile
]
, but that year was so much fun and the reactions were so great that it mattered less. With The Square [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Ruben Östlund
film profile
]
, it was bizarre when it wasn’t announced, not mentioned anywhere, but then was included a few weeks later. One of my best experiences was when Involuntary [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Erik Hemmendorff
interview: Ruben Östlund
film profile
]
made it into Un Certain Regard. I was a euphoric rookie, walking on little clouds. Over time, I have to admit, the euphoria has now turned into relief.

Do you now have a cut of the film that you can fully stand behind?
I finished a cut today that I will screen tonight. I have great faith in it, but I will continue to improve it. On Monday, I’m off to Berlin to work on the grading.

You’ve already been candid about the story of the model couple on a luxury cruise that ends up shipwrecked, but is there anything new we should know?
Let me share Woody Harrelson’s text after seeing the film: “It’s a masterpiece!” Let’s hope his taste in cinema is as great as his kindness… But those who’ve seen it really like the main ensemble. “Vital” and “skilled” are two appraisals mentioned.

How does Triangle of Sadness relate to your previous work, if at all?
I’m glad you asked. I realised it’s part three of a trilogy, about being male in our times – something that permeates Force Majeure, The Square and now this one. We have three male characters, each struggling with the male image. I have dealt with these characters with great enthusiasm, not least because I can draw on my own experiences. The modern man has certainly been scrutinised and dissected lately, as we all know, in all his awkwardness. It isn’t a planned trilogy, as such, but I like the fact that it became one, and that each film sheds more light on the other two. It can strengthen the bonds between the audience and myself as a filmmaker and storyteller.

Could the trilogy even expand into a quartet?
I actually feel quite done with the male image – for the moment, at least. My next attack will be executed differently, hopefully. It will take place during a long-haul flight, where the passengers are told shortly after take-off that the entertainment system is down. So the next 17 hours will have to be spent without any kind of digital pastime. The story will take a look at what happens to humanity inside this little fuselage of an aircraft in this situation. You want to know how it ends?

For now, let’s settle for your Easter holidays. Any plans?
I’ll try to enjoy life and myself a bit, in the company of my daughters Alva and Hilda, my six-month-young son Elias and my partner Sina. I’ll be a much better father now than I would have been, had I not been entered in the main competition at Cannes this year.

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