‘We Will Push Acting to Levels Not Seen in a While,’ Says Ruben Östlund About Next Movie, as New Joachim Trier, Tarek Saleh Pics Are Unveiled in Cannes

Back in Cannes a year after presiding over the main Cannes jury, the two-time Palme d’or winner Ruben Öslund unveiled more details about his next mega-project, English-language “The Entertainment System Is Down,” which he said should be ready for Cannes 2026.

The press conference, attended by the hottest talent and producers from the Nordic region and beyond, was hosted by Film i Väst, one of Europe’s largest regional film funds.

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Making his usual rock star appearance, flanked by actors Kirsten Dunst and Daniel Brühl, Östlund unveiled more details about “The Entertainment System Is Down”, to be shot entirely on a real 747 airplane, bought by the producers for the movie.

”I was in London doing some casting and Erik [Hemmendorff, producer and partner in the Swedish banner Plattform Produktion] was in Northern London looking for airplanes. A few days later I asked: ‘Did you buy it?’ And he said: ‘Yes!’ That was quite early in the process. I said: ‘Oh, Then we do have to make it!”

Trying to justify the extravagant spend for what will be – as usual- a major European co-production led by Plattform, with their long-time partners Philippe Bober (The Co-Production Office) and Film i Väst, Östlund said: ”What I love about our set up, is that all the money is invested in making the movie – days of shooting etc.”

”We wanted to have a real airplane because very often, when you watch an airplane movie, characters are put in a corner, pretending to be on a big flight but we don’t really see it. It’s fu..ing frustrating!”.

”This time, when we will see the couple argueing, there will be like 300 people in that shot. Then we will use the whole airplane, not just a section, so that we can walk from the cockpit all the way to the back, with a long tracking shot, we will get the feeling of being in this space. That will demand a lot of you guys!” said Östlund, addressing Dunst and Brühl.

Drilling doing the storyline – already sneak-peeked in Variety –  Östlund, who famously dissects scenes of his movies, long before filming, said: “Basically right after take-off, the flight attendants realize they have a problem: the entertainment system is down. This means that the passengers are doomed to deal with their own boredom. This will be the core of the story. On a society level, what happens if we take away entertainment?

“In the story, I will focus on this couple. The main male character [Brühl] falls asleep. His wife [Dunst] who is bored grabs his phone, and tries to unlock it. It turns out she doesn’t have the code and tries to use face ID. He has his mouth open when he sleeps, so carefully she closes it. She manages to unlock the phone and of course, realises that he’s had multiple affairs. Through the movie, they will go through an emotional roller-coaster,” continues the director before quipping: ”without entertainment,  people would get bored and divorce rates would shoot up!”

Talking the challenge of shooting the movie ”99% in a closed set for over 70 days,” Östlund said he will ”push the acting to levels not seen in a long time.” ”I will really work with the actors’ presence, as we will drive the audience from the very beginning, through this chain of events, and follow the characters’ journey – we will be right there in their faces!”

Asked about how they boarded the project, Brühl and Dunst shared very different experiences.
For the German-Spanish actor of “Rush,” it all started in Cannes a few years back, and continued at a BBQ party in Majorca, where both Brühl and Östlund own a property.

Dunst had two zoom sessions with Östlund. One where Öslund explained his movie and asked her to send self-tapes. A second one where she was meant to improvise. Feeling nervous [I had never improvised on zoom before!”] she tried to use ”weird sensorial stuff” to relax. ”But then we just talked!,” she said.

According to Östlund, the plan is to hit the Croisette with his next movie in 2026. Phiippe Bober who handles global sales is starting negotiations in Cannes.

Next Joachim Trier 

More hotly anticipated films were unveiled:

*Joachim Trier’s next pic, ”Sentimental Value,” in which he will reunite with ”The Worst Person in the World’s” Renate Reinsve, a 2021 best actress winner in Cannes, will be “an intimate, moving, funny exploration of family, memories, and the reconciliatory power of art,” according to the logline.
“It will be Joachim’s most personal film, a family portrait over decades and seasons, very ambitious visually,” said Maria Ekerhovd at Mer Film which is producing with Andrea Berentsen Ottmar. Shooting is due to start in August, until November, involving Trier’s regular creative team, such as co-writer Eskil Vogt.

And the Next Tarik Saleh

Tarik Saleh’s “Eagles of the Republic”, his follow up to “Boy From Heaven,” a best screenplay at 2022’s Cannes, starts filming this month, with his regular actor Fares Fares set to star alongside French actor Lyna Khoudri, the U.S.-Palestinian Cherien Dabis, Morroco’s Zineb Triki and Finnish-Syrian Sherwan Haji.

Fares stars as Egyptian actorGeorge Fahmy who is pressured to topline a film commissioned by the highest authorities. He reluctantly accepts the role and finds himself thrown into the inner circle of power while embarking on an affair with the mysterious wife of the general overseeing the film.

Academy-award French composer Alexandre Desplat has joined the project due for delivery in 2025.
The third instalment in Saleh’s Cairo trilogy after “The Nile Hilton Incident” and “Boy from Heaven” is produced by Unlimited Stories, Apparaten and Memento Production. SF Studios handles Nordic rights and Memento French distribution with Playtime in charge of global sales.

Other Titles

Also sneak-peeked were the Noomi-Rapace starrer “Mother” by Macedonia’s Teona Stugar Mitevska, Hobab Sweden’s “The Wolf Will Tear Your Immaculate Hands” by Nathalie Álvarez Mesén (“Clara Sola”) and “Bouran” by Iranian duo Maryam Moghadda and Behtash Sanaeeha (“My Favourite Cake”), 
Mirroring the diversity of Norwegian film, “The Ugly Sister”, will offer a new take on Cinderella by newcomer Emilie Blichfeldt, starring Lea Myren (“Kids in Crime”)  Thea Sofie Loch Naess (“The Last Kingdom”), Ane Dahl Torp (“The Wave”). Mer Film is producing with Zentropa Sweden, Poland’s Lava Films and Denmark’s Motor.

Also from Norway, the adrenaline-driven “The Nation’s Gambit” by Jens Lien (“The Bothersome Man”), based on a novel by Johan Høst, features a chess game between a terrorist holding Norway’s Prime Minister hostage and the government. SF Studios is producing.

Based on true events, “Safe House” by Eirik Svensson unfolds during 15 intense hours at a Doctors Without Borders’ field hospital in Bangui on Christmas Eve, 2013. The ensemble Nordic cast includes Kristine Kujath Thorp, Mattis Herman Nyquist, Bibi Tanga, Alexander Karim and Alma Pöysti. Fantefilm is producing, with TrustNordisk handling sales.

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