Ruben Östlund Says Awards Make Filmmakers ‘More Insecure’: It Puts ‘Pressure’ on the Next Project

Ruben Östlund knows it’s “absurd” to complain about winning awards, but to a certain extent, the auteur resents how buzzy plaques affect the filmmaking process.

The “Triangle of Sadness” director told Interview magazine that he believes winning the Palme d’Or puts more “pressure” on directors for their follow-up projects. When asked by “Mother Couch” writer/director Niclas Larsson if receiving awards “create[s] self-confidence or make you more insecure,” Östlund admitted that he became “more insecure” after winning his first Palme for “The Square” in 2017. He later won the prize again for “Triangle of Sadness” in 2022.

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Now, he strives to make history with a third Palme.

“It makes you more insecure, I would say,” Östlund said. “For me it was a hundred percent like this. Winning one Golden Palm put more pressure on me, but winning two Golden Palms took away a lot of pressure because that means I wasn’t a one hit wonder. But then also I need pressure in order to perform.”

He continued, “So that’s why the goal with the next film is to win another Golden Palm. It’s going to be the first time in the history of filmmaking that a director wins three Golden Palms in a row. I mean, it’s completely absurd to say these things.”

Östlund credited that “pressure” for also fueling his work.

“For me, the goal is to create a bar that is pushed up and to create a goal. I think a lot of people consider me very cocky in a way, but for me, you say it because it creates something that makes it possible to push something,” Östlund said. “I think also true creative confidence and managing to achieve something and working with feature films and traveling the world and meeting people also developed my self-confidence. So it’s something about getting confidence in a profession and then through that, experiencing the world and being put up in different social situations that makes you even more confident.”

“The Square” earned a Best International Feature Film Oscar nomination, and “Triangle of Sadness” earned nominations for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay.

“Don’t you think it’s interesting comparing the attitude in the U.S. with Europe, because in Sweden we strive for creating equality and everybody should be at the same level and you shouldn’t strive for popping up in the hierarchy and so on, which is in some ways I actually think is good,” Östlund said. “But when we started to do ‘Force Majeure’ and ‘Involuntary,’ that’s when I started to say, ‘OK, I want to have a premiere in Cannes or we want to be Oscar-nominated.’ And if you said this in Europe, people would get a little bit insecure. But if you spoke to people in the U.S., they would say, ‘OK, good luck, man. I hope you make it.'”

Östlund previously told IndieWire while overseeing the 2023 Cannes jury that he would prefer to get another Palme than an Academy Award.

“For me, it’s an easy choice if I have to choose between an Oscar and a Palme d’Or,” he said. “I’d rather have one more than have an Oscar.”

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