DCA Film Club 11: Incident by a Bank

12 June 2020

Welcome to our weekly Film Club! We'll be recommending great films to watch at home, before meeting in our Facebook group or your preferred social media to chat about the film using #DCAFilmClub!

DCA Film Club sees our Cinema Team talk about our favourite filmmakers by looking at their short films. We hope they will inspire you to go off and watch something else, be it online or at a cinema near you (when it reopens of course). You can read our Head of Cinema Alice's full introduction to DCA Film Club here.

This week, we're watching Incident by a Bank by Swedish writer-director Ruben Östlund. Read on for Alice's introduction to the film, then watch the film for free on YouTube.

Internationally acclaimed Swedish director Ruben Östlund began his career in the 1990s directing skiing films before moving on to shorts and features. Although his early film Play was released in the UK, it was his bracing dark and very funny Force Majeure which was a breakout hit, followed swiftly by The Square, which won the Palme d’Or at Cannes. 

Östlund's work is often centred around exploring the flaws and failings of modern society but crucially also asks us consider our own personal moral responsibility within our own world. A master of observation, there’s a precision in his filmmaking (clearly evident in this early short) which is a feature of all his work. It’s a filmmaking style that is both technically impressive and challenging to watch but always deeply engrossing. Never preachy and often searingly funny, Östlund is simply asking us to pay attention, not just to his film but to our role and place in the world. What I love about his films is that they can spark the most heated, head-scratching conversations afterwards, as we’ve witnessed first hand in DCA cinema foyers.

Incident by a Bank, which won the Golden Bear at Berlin Film Festival in 2010, is the story of a failed bank robbery. Based on a real-life incident witnessed by Östlund and his producer (Erik Hemmendorff) in Stockholm, it unfolds in a single-take, with over 96 performers orchestrating events in front of the camera. It is a fascinating exercise in real-time storytelling that’s brimming with drama, tension and comedy. Östlund had said he was inspired by how his preconceptions of how a bank robbery would play out (largely formed through scenes he’d experienced in cinema or television) turned out to be nothing like the real-life event he witnessed.

Further reading

Östlund discusses the creative choices and filmmaking techniques which went into making Incident by a Bank in these two interviews.

An in-depth interview with Östlund about his career from The Guardian.

An onstage interview with Östlund from the London Film Festival where he specifically talks about his Palme d’or winning film The Square. 

Several of Östlund‘s feature films are all available to rent and buy online – we can’t recommend them highly enough!

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