After studying cinema in Gothenburg, he directed his first feature film, The Guitar Mongoloid, in 2004. On the edge of the documentary genre, the film describes the intersecting destinies of outcasts in a fictional city that closely resembles Gothenburg. Humor as a tool of sociological description is already apparent.
His next short film, Autobiographical Scene Number 6882, gathers all the ingredients of his future work, which are affirmed in Involuntary, a feature film selected at Un Certain Regard in 2008. Östlund positions the camera at a relevant distance to better observe human behavior: small weaknesses and major flaws caused by group dynamics are then dissected to the point of discomfort. His third feature film, Play, which was presented at the Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes in 2011, describes harassment between youth gangs. When it was released in Sweden it gave rise to a major debate across Swedish society.
In Force Majeure, which was screened at Un Certain Regard in 2014, the situation takes on the aspect of an avalanche where a father prefers to take cover rather than save his wife and children: how can he accept the aftermath, in bad faith and in fear of losing face? Such is the issue that the director examines with ferocious acidity.
Ruben Östlund repeatedly explores a provocative dialectic which has become his signature: an initial situation sets the stage for a sociological examination where the baser instincts of our humanity are painstakingly and uncompromisingly examined with corrosive humor.
In 2017, in The Square, he tells the fictional story of an artistic experiment he conducted in his native country. The film addresses brilliantly the boundaries of public space, art and the animal aspects within ourselves. Finally, in 2022, Triangle of Sadness chronicles a cruise ship caught in a storm that reshuffles the cards of class struggle in Western societies in a nauseating hullabaloo.
- President Feature films, 2023
- Member Un Certain Regard, 2016
CHAMBRE 999Cannes Classics, 2023Actor
TRIANGLE OF SADNESSIn Competition - Feature Films, 2022Director, Screenplay, Editing
SEARCHING FOR INGMAR BERGMANCannes Classics, 2018Actor
THE SQUAREIn Competition - Feature Films, 2017Director, Screenplay, Editing
TURISTUn Certain Regard, 2014Director
DE OFRIVILLIGAUn Certain Regard, 2008Editing, Director, Screenplay
TRIANGLE OF SADNESSIn Competition - Feature Films, 2022
THE SQUAREIn Competition - Feature Films, 2017
TURIST(FORCE MAJEURE) Un Certain Regard, 2014