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The director of the Palme d’Or: “Both the left and the right are stuck on their

In May, Swede Ruben Östlund won the Palme d’or at the Cannes Film Festival with Without filter. It is the story of a cruise that derails and turns into an irresistible and limitless satire of our society and the richest. The director returned to Paris a few days ago. The opportunity to talk about politics and cinema.

What is your view of political parties?

Both the left and the right remain blocked in their positions. And I’ve always seen them go against each other. On the right, they don’t want to admit what’s good about socialism. On the left, we do not want to recognize what is good in capitalism. My film is a way of commenting on this. The captain of the yacht is an idealist Marxist and we have, opposite, a rational capitalist. They pass the buck. It reminds me of my mother who is a communist and took a long time to understand what capitalism could bring. Even when I told him that we had reduced infant mortality, increased lifespan, that everyone had more money… Even Marx said that we needed capitalism to build society and that communism had to s apply after. But the left has forgotten Marx. And in the United States, socialism is a polemical word. It’s absurd.

photo ruben östlund in the middle of his “without filter” team.  © film tray

Ruben Östlund in the middle of his team of “Without filter”. © Bac Films

Do you like to watch the failings of humans?

It’s more interesting to watch the failures, the cracks. It helps people identify themselves. Because even if the things I say are quite rare, they can happen.

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But you add satire…

Satirical elements make it possible to laugh at the stupidity of our actions, the absurdity of life. It allows you to question the viewer.

Adding a good dose of humor…

Yes. Pretty basic humor. Like in stand-up or burlesque.

Why did you become interested in fashion influencers and the very rich?

My wife is a fashion photographer. I met her eight years ago. It was exciting to discover this world from the inside. In our societies, and especially for women, if you are beautiful you can exchange your beauty for money. In the film, the couple of influencers is a brand couple. They are together because they are a brand, a label. But where is the love in that? And then, on the boat, Filipinos are paid nothing and some passengers can ask for absolutely anything they want. Even a unicorn or illicit substances. I wanted to take those two extremes so I could reverse them.

Finally, are you an anarchist?

Absolutely not. I believe in a strong State, in a mixed economy, in free trade… But with regulations. In Sweden, in the 1980s and 1990s, we were really heading in the right direction, then came liberalism à la Reagan and Thatcher and everything had to be privatized, schools, social security… In fact, everything that constitutes basic needs to live has been exploited by capitalism.

Are you optimistic about the future of the company?

I’m. Of course, there’s climate change and things like that. But I see people collaborating, doing things that are going in the right direction.

First Palme d’or for The Square. A second for Without filter. What does it change ?

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The first was a bit surreal. For the second, it was like a feeling of emptiness. Am I going to have to go through that again? And, at the same time, of course, we are very proud, especially when you see the directors that they had it before. You tell yourself that, from now on, you play in the big leagues. Besides, I’m still young. Can I win a third?

Does it matter in Sweden?

Yes. In The Square, I criticized the monarchy and even the royal house gave me a medal. There is an undeniable prestige. In the Swedish press, I became a national hero. Even if after two days they started hating me again.

Without filter is a long movie. Is it a problem ?

It’s always a combination of trying to create as strong an impression as possible and keeping the momentum going. So sometimes you go longer than expected.

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