In Case of No Emergency: The Films of Ruben Östlund
January 15–February 17
Ruben Östlund began his career in the 1990s directing skiing films before moving on to narrative shorts and features that have been steadily collecting prizes and accolades on the festival circuit for the past 10 years. His new film, FORCE MAJEURE, took the Grand Jury Prize in the Un Certain Regard competition at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. It is also his second film to be submitted by Sweden for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar®.
In Östlund's bracing, darkly funny movies, modern life takes shape as a series of simultaneously devastating and absurd crises, no less real for being imagined, and the civilized veneer of Western bourgeois society barely conceals all manner of foibles and prejudices. His deconstructions of ego and privilege are elegant provocations, designed to defy easy identification and, in his words, "make the audience take a moral stand on its own."
This touring retrospective is produced by Comeback Company, in partnership with the Swedish Film Institute and Plattform Produktion and with additional support from the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation, the Embassy of Sweden in the U.S. and the Consulate General of Sweden in New York.
For more information about the touring retrospective, visit Comeback Company.
All films in Swedish with English subtitles. All film notes courtesy of Film Society of Lincoln Center.
AFI Member passes accepted at all films in the series.
FORCE MAJEURE [Turist]
Q&A with director Ruben Östlund
2014 Oscar® Selection, Sweden
Picture-perfect Swedes Tomas, Ebba and their two kids are enjoying a pleasant family getaway at a French ski resort, until an avalanche strikes. Although everyone walks away unharmed, Tomas' gut reaction to the incident will shake his marriage to its core. Filled with wicked humor and piercing satire, filmmaker Ruben Östlund's (PLAY, INVOLUNTARY) chilling comedy of manners won the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. "Sophisticated, stingingly clever and well-executed. Filmed with crystalline clarity and observant humor." –Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post. Official Selection, 2014 Toronto Film Festival.
DIR/SCR Ruben Östlund; PROD Erik Hemmendorff, Marie Kjellson. Sweden/Denmark/Norway, 2014, color, 118 min, DCP. RATED R
"I want to make the audience active and reflective," Östlund has stated. He does just that with this controversial record, inspired by actual court cases, of five black teenagers harassing white and Asian youths through scams and role-playing. All violence is implied, but the graver implication (which inflamed critics on the home front) is that political correctness debilitates society, as "good people" stand by and do nothing for fear of being thought racist. Östlund, who won a Swedish Oscar® for Best Director and a "coup de cœur" prize at Cannes, imprisons his actors within a frame, not unlike social mores freezing people in place. Unabashedly impolite, the film offers food for thought and fuel for fury.
DIR/SCR Ruben Östlund; SCR/PROD Erik Hemmendorff. Sweden/France, 2011, color, 118 min, DCP. NOT RATED
INVOLUNTARY [De ofrivilliga]
Described by Östlund as "a tragic comedy or a comic tragedy," the director's second feature examines group dynamics and the dark side of human nature in five tales of social discord. In one, a teacher sees a colleague carry discipline too far and mentions the act in the staff room, with startling consequences. In another, a party host, afraid of losing face, unwisely neglects an injury. Two parallel stories detail groupthink among young men and women, respectively. Co-written with Östlund's long-time producer Erik Hemmendorff, and inspired by personal experiences, the film situates the viewer inside each social powder keg, where recognition and uneasy laughter coalesce.
DIR/SCR Ruben Östlund; SCR/PROD Erik Hemmendorff. Sweden, 2009, color, 98 min, DCP. NOT RATED
THE GUITAR MONGOLOID [Gitarrmongot]
Östlund's feature debut is set in Jöteborg, a fictional Swedish city resembling the director's own hometown of Göteborg (Gothenburg). His focus is on outsiders and nonconformists, in particular the titular musician, a young man facing dire obstacles in life. The mostly nonprofessional cast brings a documentary quality to this loosely scripted communal portrait, wrought with compassion and touches of humor. Winner of the FIPRESCI Prize at the 2005 Moscow International Film Festival, the film is shot in typical Östlund fashion, with an observant camera capturing life from fixed positions.
DIR/SCR Ruben Östlund; PROD Kalle Boman, Anna Sohlman. Sweden, 2004, color, 89 min, DCP. NOT RATED
INCIDENT BY A BANK [Händelse vid bank]
Based on a real-life account of a bank robbery witnessed (and filmed) by two bystanders across the street, Östlund's study of surveillance earned the Golden Bear for Best Short Film at Berlinale. His slow zooms and pans across vast public spaces — and his implicit question, "Who watches the watchers?" — may remind some viewers of Michael Haneke's CACHÉ. DIR/SCR Ruben Östlund; PROD Erik Hemmendorff; PROD Marie Kjellson. Sweden, 2009, color, 12 min, DCP. NOT RATED
AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL SCENE NUMBER 6882
[Scen nr: 6882 ur mitt liv]
A young man boasts to friends that he will jump from a high bridge into the river below, then begins to have second thoughts. This penetrating short presages Östlund's INVOLUNTARY for its illustration of peer pressure and FORCE MAJEURE for its critique of the fragile male psyche. DIR/SCR Ruben Östlund; SCR/PROD Erik Hemmendorff. Sweden, 2005, color, 9 min, DCP. NOT RATED