Ruben Östlund Gets Why Scorsese Doesn’t Want ‘Killers’ in Competition at Cannes: It’s More of a ‘Risk’

Ruben Östlund is aware that the Cannes critics can resemble a circle of sadness.

The two-time Palme d’Or winner and “Triangle of Sadness” director admitted to Variety that he understands why Martin Scorsese declined to debut “Killers of the Flower Moon” in competition at Cannes. Östlund serves as the 2023 Cannes Film Festival jury president.

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“You have to use the competition to gain energy. And think of how much energy the Cannes Film Festival has given to filmmakers all over the world,” Östlund said. “Of course, if you’re a director of the caliber of Martin Scorsese, to be in competition with other films involves a risk rather than a reward — critics in Cannes can be harsh.”

He added, “But I would like to encourage everybody to enter the competition.”

Scorsese’s long-awaited “Killers of the Flower Moon” is premiering at this year’s festival; however, the Western epic true crime period piece will play out of competition, similar to “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.”

The official logline for “Killers of the Flower Moon” bills it as a 1920s Oklahoma drama depicting the serial murder of members of the oil-wealthy Osage Nation that became known as the Reign of Terror. Leonardo DiCaprio, Lily Gladstone, Jesse Plemons, Brendan Fraser, Robert De Niro, Tantoo Cardinal, Cara Jade Myers, JaNae Collins, and Jillian Dion star.

Cannes festival director Thierry Fremaux confirmed that the film was eligible to debut in competition due to its theatrical release from Apple, in partnership with Paramount Pictures. Fremaux told Variety earlier this year that he wanted Scorsese to compete for the Palme d’Or almost a half-century since “Taxi Driver.”

“When we saw the film back in November and when we invited it, it was an Apple movie. The situation has changed now that Apple has announced that it will be released in theaters everywhere, including in France, on Oct. 19. That means it qualifies for the Cannes competition since, as you know, all films competing must have a theatrical release,” Fremaux said. “So I told Apple and Martin Scorsese that considering how great the movie is, it’s obviously invited in competition. And now I’m waiting to hear their decision. We have until the last minute.”

He continued, “When Fellini won the Palme d’Or for ‘La Dolce Vita,’ he said ‘I’m not coming back in competition,’ and Marty won the Palme d’Or in 1976. So obviously one could say, he doesn’t have much to gain considering his prestigious status. Except one thing: the Palme d’Or. I think he should come in competition.”

Fremaux further teased that “Killers of the Flower Moon” is akin to David Lean and Cecil B. DeMille Old Hollywood classics. Scorsese has yet to publicly comment on whether the film will be in competition or not at Cannes. For all the details on “Killers of the Flower Moon,” click here.

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