Why a Swedish director shot an anti-Nato film for his mum

Sweden's Golden Globe-nominated filmmaker Ruben Östlund has told The Local why he has produced a video protesting a new cooperation deal his country is about to sign with Nato.

Why a Swedish director shot an anti-Nato film for his mum
Swedish director Ruben Östlund. Photo: Marcus Ericsson/TT

Sweden's parliament is voting this month on a proposal to become a so-called host country for Nato. But the bid has sparked a stir in the traditionally non-aligned nation and on Wednesday one of its top directors joined the debate, by producing an anti-Nato campaign video for his mother.

“Could you film? We want to create a 'click monster'. Two weeks ago I was asked by my 71-year-old mum if I could document a flashmob she was participating in,” wrote Ruben Östlund as he published his video online for Sweden's biggest tabloid, Aftonbladet. “Of course I'll do that, mum!”

In the video, the 'No to Nato' activists are seen rehearsing a flashmob, which they later carry out in central Gothenburg, while singing a traditional Swedish song and 'Give Peace A Chance'.

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Min mamma har gjort en flashmob!

Posted by Ruben Östlund on Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Östlund, the Swedish star director behind Golden Globe-nominated 2014 film 'Force Majeure' ('Turist'), winner of the Cannes Film Festival's Jury Prize, told The Local that he had not been able to say no to his mother when she asked him to shoot the video for her and her friends.

“It was moving. She's 71 years old and the grandmother to my children and I was touched by the fact that she and this group of pensioners wanted to make this statement together about something that's important to them,” he said, speaking to The Local while working on his new movie, 'The Square', to be released next year.

“It's a nice old-fashioned approach. They are not affiliated to any political party and are engaging in this together, which is rare today when people tend to position themselves individually.”

Sweden has seen increased debate in the past year about seeking membership in the military defence alliance. A poll released in September 2015 suggested that 41 percent of Swedes are in favour of joining Nato, 39 percent are against the idea and 20 percent are uncertain.

The rise in support is largely credited to growing fear of what is perceived as a potentially aggressive Russia, with Sweden's security service Säpo saying that the biggest intelligence threat against Sweden comes from its eastern neighbour.

Östlund, who hopes his name will give the anti-Nato campaign a boost, would like to see more debate about the Nato host country agreement and explains he is sceptical of claims that Sweden should join the organization for military protection.

“I am critical of the general media's warmongering on the whole. What happens when Nato moves its positions forward and creates a fear of external threats? The arms industry has an interest in military build-up and makes a huge amount of money on this,” he said.

The new Nato deal, which is likely to be approved in parliament, means that Sweden will be able to invite the military alliance to base its troops in Sweden and use its territory for transportation.

It has also sparked concerns among its critics that it could allow Nato to ultimately place nuclear weapons in Sweden, which Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist has said is not an option.

“We are not prepared to accept nuclear weapons on Swedish territory, in Swedish ports or in Swedish airspace. I expect that future governments will stick to that as well,” he told the TT newswire last month.