Incident by a Bank

Incident by a Bank (Ruben Östlund, 2012)

Incident by a Bank

This short film put (now two-time Golden Palm winner) Ruben Östlund on the map of European cinema: Incident by a Bank is based on true facts and stages a surreal, failed bank robbery that the filmmaker himself witnessed in 2006, in central Stockholm.

The film is composed of one single shot in which just under a hundred people carefully portray the incident. As he often does, Östlund observes the human behaviour of individuals but also of the group. How does one react to these events? Who intervenes? How paralysing is the bystander effect? Moreover, Östlund translates his core interests into cinematic language, presenting a camera adapting the behaviour of a surveillance camera, zooming and panning to constantly reframe its gaze, and therefore also the audience’s.

By constantly keeping the viewer at a sterile distance from the main action, Östlund slowly shifts the focus from the robbery to those witnessing the situation from a safe distance. The passivity of each character is far more interesting than the money, stolen or not. An old man is the only one who intervenes, pushing over the thieves' scooter. Other than that, no one even bothers to call the police. Everyone just stares incredulously at the situation, and finally ignores it.

Östlund's short film Autobiographical Scene Number 6882 and (the slightly longer) Family Again (2002) will also be screened on the same night.