Sweden picks Palme d’Or winner ‘The Square’ for Oscars

2017 Palme d'Or winner "The Square" has been announced as Sweden's pick for the Best Foreign Language award at the forthcoming Oscars.

Sweden picks Palme d'Or winner 'The Square' for Oscars
Ruben Östlund's "The Square" has already won the Palme d'Or. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

The satire on political correctness caused a major upset in May when it was awarded the most prestigious prize at the Cannes Film Festival by a jury including Pedro Almodovar.

READ ALSO: The Square stuns Cannes with Palme d'Or win

Now, it has a chance to become Sweden's first Best Foreign Language Film winner since Ingmar Bergman's Fanny and Alexander took the Oscar in 1983 – provided the Academy Awards jury send it through to the five-film shortlist in January.

Director Ruben Östlund told The Local he's pleased, though he considers the Palme d'Or to be a greater honour:

“It's great. The Oscars are the world's second best film awards, so it's nice.”

“The Palme d'Or is definitely more important. That has only been handed out 70 times ever, whereas there are loads of people with Oscars,” he elaborated.

Östlund's tone contrasts that of a parody video he released the last time one of his movies had a chance to earn an Oscar. In 2015 he made the video “Swedish director freaks out when he misses out on Oscar nomination” about a “shocking snub” for Force Majeure after it failed to make the final Best Foreign Language Film shortlist.

The clip, which comes with the description “worst man cry ever” has been watched almost 150,000 times on Youtube.

Östlund thinks his chances are better this time however – understandably, after the Cannes win:

“It has been given really good reviews in the US, so that's a sign it could go down well with the Oscars academy members.”

In his sights next is the world of fashion. The Gothenburg native is now already in the process of attempting to follow up The Square's success.

“I'm working on a film called Triangle of Sadness just now, which is about the fashion and cosmetics industry,” he revealed.

The last Palme d’Or winner to go on and win a Best Foreign Language Oscar was Michael Haneke’s “Amour” in 2013. The Square will be released in Swedish cinemas on August 25th.


‘Propaganda of sodomy’: Georgian far-right protests against Swedish Oscar film

Hundreds of far-right activists burned a rainbow flag and cried "Shame!" during a protest in the Georgian capital against an Oscar-nominated Swedish-Georgian gay-themed film which premiered amid a heavy police presence.

'Propaganda of sodomy': Georgian far-right protests against Swedish Oscar film
Protesters massed outside the Amirani cinema in Tbilisi. Photo: Vano Shlamov / AFP
Set in Georgia, “And Then We Danced” — Sweden's official Oscar submission in the best international feature film category — is a love story about two male dancers in Georgia's national ballet company.
The drama has won worldwide critical acclaim but was denounced by the Caucasus country's influential Orthodox Church as an “affront to the traditional Georgian values”.
In front of the Amirani cinema in the capital Tbilisi, the anti-gay protesters chanted “Long live Georgia!” and “Shame!”. They burned the rainbow flag as an Orthodox priest recited a prayer.
The interior ministry said 11 protesters were arrested for “disobeying police”.
The cinema, which had earlier posted a video on Facebook of policemen checking the cinema's seats with sniffer dogs. let ticket holders inside for the evening premiere showing and then shut the doors.
“Georgian folk dance is an epitome of the Georgian spiritual values, we will not let them defile our national traditions,” said one of the far-right protesters, 35-year-old housewife Teona Gogava.
Maka Kiladze, a forty-year-old choreographer who was among the audience in the cinema, said: “There is huge interest towards the film in Georgia. It's anomaly that we have to face an angry mob to attend a film screening”.
'Dark times'
Earlier this week, Sandro Bregadze, a former junior minister in the ruling Georgian Dream party's government, said his nationalist Georgian March group would not allow the film to be screened in Tbilisi, calling it “propaganda of sodomy”.
Levan Vasadze, a Georgian businessman with links to Russia's anti-Western and far-right groups, said his supporters will “enter screening rooms in the six cinemas in Tbilisi and turn off the projectors,” also vowing to “shove back police if need be”.
“Some far right groups and the Church have basically condemned the film and are planning to stop people from entering the sold out screenings,” the film's director Levan Akin, a Swede with Georgian roots, wrote on his Facebook page
earlier Friday.
These are “dark times we live in,” he wrote, adding that it is important to “stand up against these shadowy forces in any way we can”.
Georgia's interior ministry issued a statement, promising to ensure “the protection of public safety and order, as well as the freedom of self-expression”.
“We address everyone: obey the law. Otherwise, police will use their lawful mandate and suppress unlawful acts immediately,” the statement said.   
Homosexuality is still highly stigmatised in Georgia, a socially conservative Black Sea nation where the immensely influential Orthodox Church has previously clashed with Western-leaning governments over social issues.
Homosexuality was banned in Georgia after the country was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1921.
After the Soviet Union's collapse, the ban was not enforced, but officially homosexuality was only decriminalised in 2000, with anti-discrimination laws adopted in 2006.
Critics of the ruling Georgian Dream party have accused the government of giving tacit support to homophobic and nationalist groups which traditionally support the party in elections and have staged protest rallies against pro-Western opposition parties.