Jens Jonsson was on the other side of the world for his breakthrough moment. As his film The King Of Ping Pong was winning the Sundance 2008 World Cinema Jury Prize (as well as the World Cinema cinematography prize), he had already left Park City to show the film closer to home at the Gothenburg International Film Festival in Sweden. "I was in Gothenburg with the rest of the Swedish crowd wishing I was in Park City with the Hollywood crowd," Jonsson says, before erupting into a boisterous laugh.
Stockholm-based Jonsson has been renowned for his award-winning short films over the years, including Linerboard and Brother Of Mine, but he says he had to embrace the short format only because of budgets. "A lot of shorts are boring or strange. I'm not a fan of shorts in that sense," he says. "I just was able to shoot my films until the money runs out, that might be just 42 minutes. If I'd had a lot of money, I'd probably have continued shooting a six-hour film."
He certainly has made an impression with his debut feature, which was shot on a budget of $2.6m (skr32m). It received backing from the Swedish Film Institute and most recently screened at the Rotterdam International Film Festival. NonStop Sales is handling international sales on the project, which is about a moody 16-year-old boy who excels at ping pong but not at relationships with family or friends; his emotions come to a head when family secrets are revealed.
The film is not easily pinned down into one genre, which was Jonsson's intention. "That's a very disturbing thing when people don't know if it's a comedy or coming of age drama or exploring more existential themes. It creates uncertainty, and then when we take a sharp left turn into genre, of course you risk losing some of the audience," he says.
The film is visually stunning, shot in the snowy landscapes of northern Sweden by DoP Askild Vik Edvardsen. "The visual presentation was challenging, I wanted to push the limits on my own film-making and also present this palate and landscape and slightly heightened realism," Jonsson explains.
The film revels in its contradictions - not just with emotions but also using a classical score mixed with 1980s pop hits ("I love Total Eclipse Of The Heart but felt ashamed to tell anyone before now," Jonsson confesses).
Now, Jonsson's next feature script, Rotterdam CineMart 2007 project A Rational Solution, will be shooting from April with first-time director Jorgen Bergmark. "It's a dirty, erotic affair," Jonsson says matter-of-factly (he will also co-produce). "It's about two couples in their 50s, and one of the men falls in love with his best friend's wife. It's looking at marriage from a very practical point of view."
He has several other ideas simmering. "I'd like to do a youth film about a young boy's mix of fantasy and reality; or Dolly-Parton-esque 'I Will Survive'-type love stories," he says.
Jonsson's not ruling out working with US partners, and he is clearly in demand after his Sundance win. "I have a sceptical suspicion of the American industry, but then I had plenty of US meetings in Sundance where I met so many humble people who asked great questions. And there's the glamour of Hollywood, that sparks your imagination."