Before Ruben Östlund won the Palme d'Or at Cannes 2017 for his ambitious film The Square—and before he dazzled audiences with the tour-de-force that was Force Majeure—the director witnessed a bank robbery. Östlund and producer Erik Hemmendorff happened to be walking past a Swedish bank as two armed men wearing ski masks botched a robbery attempt. Witnessing the event was "a very absurd and surreal experience," Östlund told Vimeo, where the film premiered as a Staff Pick. "I was a complete cowardly bystander."
Years later, Östlund meticulously recreated the robbery with 100 actors in what appears to be a single-take short. Reminiscent of a Michael Haneke movie, Incident By the Bank turns the audience into voyeurs as the hapless robbery unfolds in real-time, playing with our expectations all the while. The thrilling and disturbing film went on to win the Golden Bear at Berlinale in 2009, and it is now available to watch for the first time online.
Östlund shot the film using newly-released (at the time) 5K technology. He then employed digital zooms and pans to follow the action as it played out, giving the resulting film the impression of a single take.
"I digitally zoomed up to 400% in the picture, but I think it works quite well [despite] the loss of quality," Östlund told Vimeo. He revealed that there are four hidden cuts within the film. "We did only 14 takes, which is not much for me. I usually do around 40 takes when I shoot. But I felt I had it when I was walking home [from set] that night."