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Is a sad YouTube video more fun to watch than a happy one?
Maybe, but Swedish director Ruben Ostlund doesn’t care — because his film “The Square” was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in January. That makes for a giddier reaction video than the hysterical “Swedish Director Freaks Out” one he posted three years ago when his last film, “Force Majeure,” made the shortlist but didn’t get a nomination.
The new video, which is debuting exclusively at TheWrap, includes footage of Ostlund and his wife watching the nominations announcement from a hotel in Park City, Utah, during the Sundance Film Festival. But it also incorporates footage of producer Erik Hemmendorff in Stockholm, production designer Josefin Asberg in Goteborg, Sweden and actors Elisabeth Moss in Toronto, Claes Bang in Berlin and Christoffer Laesso in Copenhagen.
“There have been so many people asking if we were going to do a video, we almost felt that we had to,” said Ostlund. “So we tried to do a variation of it by inviting more people from the crew and the cast.
“The beautiful thing about Oscar nominations is that so many people on the team get so happy. So it was nice to spread out a little bit of the Oscar light on all of the people who have worked on the film.”
Of course, Ostlund’s films specialize in exposing the many uncomfortable and embarrassing situations of daily life, so the new video wouldn’t be complete without some snafus. Just as the Best Foreign Language Film category is announced on nominations morning, the director picks up his computer and the picture freezes — so he and his wife have no idea the film has been nominated until he starts getting texts from friends.
“I don’t know if I disconnected the wifi or what,” he said. “But it was kind of stressful at that moment.
“But it was also quite funny because 20 seconds after they announced Foreign Language Film, someone was ringing the doorbell. It was two people I work with at WME — they had come to Park City and they had been waiting in the hotel corridor with a champagne bottle. If we hadn’t gotten nominated, they would have been forced to go back home with the champagne bottle.”
Ostlund’s production company, Plattform Produktion, also had one other film in the Oscar race, the wry short documentary “Ten Meter Tower,” which made the 10-film shortlist in the category. And in a juxtaposition that the director appreciates, the short-doc category was announced immediately after foreign-language film – and “Ten Meter Tower” did not get a nomination, a disappointment that is also captured on the video.
“They were really hopeful,” he said of the “Ten Meter Tower” filmmakers, and it was such an irony that it was a category that was just after foreign-language film.
“And when they didn’t get nominated, I thought, ‘OK, we’ve got our European ending.'”
But what if “The Square” hadn’t gotten nominated? In the original “Swedish Director Freaks Out” video, Ostlund cries hysterically from behind a closed door in what appears to be a reference to the “worst man-cry ever” scene from “Force Majeure.” How could he ever top that?
“Exactly,” Ostlund said, laughing. “If that happened, we would probably have not done a video.”