Who is Sweden's 'King of Cringe'?

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Who is Sweden's 'King of Cringe'?
Swedish filmmaker Ruben Ostlund celebrates after winning the Palme d'Or for the film "Triangle of Sadness" at the 75th edition of the Cannes Film Festival on May 28, 2022. Photo: Loic Venance/ AFP

As Swedish director Ruben Östlund picks up his second Palme d'Or, The Local asks who is the man known as Sweden's 'King of Cringe?'


Swedish filmmaker Ruben Östlund's Triangle of Sadness was awarded the Palme d'Or in Cannes on Saturday night, marking the second time he has won the award following his 2017 success for The Square.

Triangle of Sadness is a biting social satire that sees a celebrity fashion model couple, played by British actor Harrison Dickinson and South African actress Charlbi Kriek, encounter unexpected events on an exclusive cruise for the super-rich.

Östlund, known by some as Sweden's "King of Cringe", explained to the media that he wanted to make a film that got people talking: "We wanted to entertain them, we wanted them to ask themselves questions, we wanted them to after the screening go out and have something to talk about," he said.


It seems he achieved his ambition and Triangle of Sadness lived up to Östlund's 'King of Cringe' moniker - complete with a vomiting scene that has reportedly been the talk of the town in Cannes this week - and news agency AFP noted that scenes from the film left "viewers either howling with laughter or turning green" during its premiere. King of Cringe he may be, but who is Ruben Östlund?

King of Cringe

Born in Styrsö, Gothenburg, in 1974, Östlund got his start in filmmaking on the Swedish ski slopes while working there after leaving school. Initially filming his friend's skiing stunts, Östlund's films won him a place at film school in Gothenburg and after graduating and setting up his own production company, he got to work on more serious filmmaking.

The Guitar Mongoloid (2004) and Involuntary (2008) were his first films, quickly followed by Play (2011), and Force Majeure (2014).

The Guitar Mongoloid won an award at the 27th Moscow International Film Festival, and Östlund's short film Incident by a Bank won the Golden Bear for Best Short Film at the 60th Berlin International Film Festival.

Force Majeure won the Jury Prize at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, was shortlisted for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, and is when Östlund really crowned himself as Sweden's 'King of Cringe'. A cringe-laden relationship drama set in the French Alps, Force Majeure has been described in reviews as "gleefully uncomfortable". 

The awards continued in 2017 when Östlund picked his first Palme d'Or for The Square, another satire, this time about an art curator navigating several personal and professional crises.

Triangle of Sadness picked up the top prize last night in Cannes. 


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