Director Andreas Öhman’s feature film debut was not only acclaimed by both critics and audiences — Simple Simon (I rymden finns inga känslor) was also chosen as Sweden’s official Academy Award entry. In January 2011, the nominations for Best Foreign Film will be announced and we will know how this drama comedy about a young man with Asperger syndrome has fared.
Andreas Öhman. Photo: Press photo
How does it feel to have your first feature chosen as Sweden’s Academy Award candidate?
“It’s really great and I feel immensely honored. I’ve also noticed that I’m now shown a different kind of respect as a director. I find it hard to just sit back and enjoy what’s happening — I always feel there are new things I could be doing, I always have new projects in the pipeline.”
Why did you choose to make a film about someone with Asperger syndrome?
“It started when I read a book about Asperger and got interested. I realized I’d come across people with Asperger syndrome myself and I started to understand more about how people perceived the world differently. That’s the story I’m trying to tell — for me, the film is about different people, all of them very special in their own way.”
But doesn’t it require a great deal of courage to make a comedy about someone with an explicit disability?
“I think you can joke about most things in life. As long as you do it in the right way. Humor is a tool for dealing with different issues.”
Why did you become a film director?
“I’ve always been interested in lots of different things. My inability to specialize in a particular area has been a drawback. But I discovered that film-making combines imagery, music and theatre, and that suits me.”
What do you like best about Sweden?
“You have plenty of opportunity to do what you like. And you feel secure in this country. While of course things could be better, at least there’s a kind of safety net — if you get into trouble you get help.”
Torun Börtz is a Swedish freelance journalist.
The author alone is responsible for the opinions expressed in this article.
Translation: Stephen Croall
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