Two-time Palme d’Or winner Ruben Östlund will receive an Honorary Heart of Sarajevo Award at the 28th edition of the Sarajevo Film Festival, which will open Aug. 12 with the Swedish director’s 2022 Cannes winner “Triangle of Sadness.”
Östlund’s English-language debut, which earned a rowdy eight-minute standing ovation in Cannes, is a provocative social satire starring Harris Dickinson as a male model struggling with his shallow industry and the unchecked capitalism he benefits from, and Woody Harrelson as the rabid Marxist captain of a cruise for the super-rich. The film was acquired by Neon for North American distribution.
Östlund will be presented with the award during the festival’s opening ceremony on Aug. 12, which will be followed by a screening of his latest feature. Last week the festival announced it would also be giving an Honorary Heart of Sarajevo Award to U.S. director and screenwriter Paul Schrader.
Sweden’s leading contemporary filmmaker and producer, Östlund has been a fixture on the festival circuit since his feature debut, “The Guitar Mongoloid,” won the Fipresci Award at the Moscow Film Festival in 2005. Since his sophomore effort, “Involuntary,” bowed in the Cannes Film Festival’s Un Certain Regard sidebar in 2008, the director has been a regular on the Croisette, where he won the Jury Award in Un Certain Regard for “Force Majeure” in 2014 and the Palme d’Or for his art world satire “The Square” in 2017.
This year’s triumph landed the Swedish filmmaker in rarefied company with other two-time Palme winners such as Francis Ford Coppola, Emir Kusturica, Ken Loach and Michael Haneke.
Variety’s chief critic Peter Debruge described “Triangle of Sadness” as “wickedly funny,” writing: “There’s a meticulous precision to the way [Östlund] constructs, blocks and executes scenes – a kind of agonizing unease, amplified by awkward silences or an unwelcome fly buzzing between characters struggling to communicate.”
Written by Östlund, the ambitious pan-European co-production was made as part of a joint project of Sarajevo’s Obala Art Center and Turkish public broadcaster TRT, with Sarajevo Film Festival founder and former director Mirsad Purivatra and current director Jovan Marjanovic both claiming credits as co-producers.
After two stripped-down editions, the leading film industry event in the Balkan region expects to return to pre-pandemic heights in 2022, with cinemas and open-air theaters operating at full capacity.
Östlund, who was last in Sarajevo as jury president for the main competition in 2019, will no doubt be encouraged by the return of movie-goers. Speaking to Variety in Cannes about the experience of sharing his films with a live audience, the director said: “There’s one thing that I love about the cinema and that you’re watching things together in the same room. Basically, it creates a certain kind of reflection to the content that you have just watched. It fits my feelings so well. I want people to reflect on what they have seen. I want them to have a discussion afterwards.”
The 28th Sarajevo Film Festival runs Aug. 12-19.