Square: Frontrunner for Best Foreign Language Film Oscar

“The Square,” the jury winner of the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Fest, swept the 2017 European Film Awards this weekend.

“This chief curator, Christian, can support these humanistic values when it comes to the art museum, but I wanted to make it a little bit harder in his own life,” Ostlund says.

“I see myself as Christian very much. I don’t look at him as hypocritical. I thought it was interesting to ask, how do we deal with these ideals on a practical level? I think that when we look at situations where we fail, we can actually understand a lot about ourselves.”

The scene in which the crowd reacts as a man with Tourette Syndrome disrupts a museum interview actually happened at a play Ostlund attended.

The film’s theme is the disconnect between how liberal-minded people aspire to behave and where they fall short when tested by real-life situations.

Ostlund was inspired by the 1972 Oscar winner, Luis Bunuel’s “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie.”

By setting “The Square” in the museum world, Ostlund underscores how art is supposed to challenge–the loose plot is punctuated by “uncomfortable” real-time sketches.

“I was provoked by these people saying, ‘It’s too long, it’s too long,’” Ostlund says. “I thought, ‘But come on! Your kids are watching “Harry Potter” and it’s three hours long.’ As soon as it comes to adult cinema, and you’re dealing with contemporary things that are important, then you don’t have two hours and 25 minutes. So I said in the interviews that I am going to make the film longer.”

After “Force Majeure,” Ostlund was approached about making a studio movie in Hollywood. “I was offered ‘Passengers,’” confides the director, who was intrigued by what he describes as its “existential setup,” though the producers rejected his take, which imagined Chris Pratt’s character as a father, debating whether to wake his wife and kids, or else choose another woman to be his companion.

Ostlund is skeptical of working in Hollywood, especially after the bad experience of  his fellow Swedish helmer Tomas Alfredson on “The Snowman.”

He prefers to develop material through his production company.  He likes the milieu of the fashion industry, where his photographer wife works.  The tentative title of his next project, “Triangle of Sadness,” refers to the wrinkles that appear between the brows of those who have suffered in life — nothing that a little Botox can’t fix.

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