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Short of the Week: A 2006 animated gem by Torill Kove

'The Danish Poet' - Torill Kove

Acclaimed filmmaker Torill Kove has established herself as one of the most important voices in the world of contemporary animation, with several impressive works like My Grandmother Ironed the King’s Shirt and Threads under her directorial belt. Kove also works as an illustrator for children’s books when she is not making her beautifully whimsical animated films.

Narrated by Ingmar Bergman’s favourite collaborator, Liv Ullmann, The Danish Poet is a manifestation of Kove’s pre-occupation with how she came into existence. The film follows a poet from Denmark who embarks on a spiritual journey in order to combat the static frustration of writer’s block. Along the way, he discovers love as well as inspiration and Kove traces those roots back to her origin.

For her endearing work in The Danish Poet, Kove won the coveted Academy Award for Best Animated Short in 2007 along with several other accolades which brought her much-deserved recognition. Made using hand-drawn animation, The Danish Poet has retained all its magic and intimate honesty even after the 15 long years that have passed since its release.

While discussing her entry into the world of animation, Kove revealed: “I had an early mid-life crisis at 30. Somewhere deep inside me, I wanted to draw. For me, short animation is a perfect combination of two things: storytelling and drawing. At that point, I was ready for anything. I simply loved the magic of doing animation and still do.”

Adding, “I’d always give more importance to storytelling as against technology. Animation is a very forgiving art form. It can tolerate many imperfections. Now we have technologies that can smoothen out the imperfections. We also have more variety. But none of this has improved the storytelling. In all visual art forms, you see a lot of fascination with making new visuals but they go short on the content.”

Kove also mentioned her biggest artistic influence: “I idolised Patti Smith in the seventies, my teenage years. I had a powerful feeling that I wanted to be her but at the same time I was very aware that I could never try to be like her. I drifted away from Patti Smith as I got older, but then Just Kids came out and everything that I had loved about her came back to me. I think other people I idolise, both men and women, are just different versions of her.”

Watch the Torill Kove’s 2006 animated short film The Danish Poet in its entirety below.