As human beings spend an ever-increasing amount of their free time looking at screens and disinformation continues to shape global politics, “Triangle of Sadness” director Ruben Östlund has some radical ideas about how to ensure that people are consuming high quality media.

In a new interview with The Guardian, Östlund floated the idea that images have become so powerful and omnipresent that cameras might need to be regulated with the same care with which many European countries treat guns.

“I have an idea,” Östlund said. “What if you were only allowed to use a camera if you have a license? You need one for a gun — at least in sophisticated countries. The camera is also a powerful tool.”

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Östlund went on to caution new filmmakers against dismissing the potential impact of their work, explaining that he thinks fictional movies can create ripple effects that go on to shape society in unintended ways.

“Movies are changing the world and it’s important to take that into consideration when you’re in this profession,” he said. “In the entertainment industry there is the strange sense that if you’re dealing with fiction then it’s not going to affect the world. You have to fight quite hard to make people realise what kind of effect the images we consume have.”

Like many filmmakers, Östlund is a passionate believer that movie theaters are the optimal way to consume cinema. The two-time Palme d’Or winner explained that he thinks the biggest benefit of communal viewing experiences is the way they force audiences to process ideas as a group, rather than individually.

“It offers some kind of citizens’ assembly, all reacting and starting to formulate things together. Physical meetings where you can discuss what you have experienced will be more and more important as people move into a meta world,” Östlund said when asked about the significance of theaters. “We have finally realized its unique point is not the big screen. It’s having to process information in a completely different way, because someone might ask you what you think. When you’re watching things individually, you are not processing the images in an intellectual way but like a zombie.”

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