Torill Kove: Poignant Stories Told In Animation

A good short film format is engaging for two reasons. It is eloquent in what it says and it does so with minimum fuss and tremendous clarity. This is especially true of the work by  the Academy nominated Torill Kove. My interest was piqued. I ended up watching  her work back to back.The three animated shorts   with clean line drawings are  not like the oft-seen lifelike animation that rolls out from studio production lines. It has a certain charm that reminds you most work that comes from Europe. The storytelling is compelling, to say the least. Her stories are unusual and like the characters in her shorts deviate from conformity. It also reiterates that in the end we are all people who must remember to hope, be kind and be brave especially in times of adversity. Kove has made the films for the  National Film Board of Canada which produces superior quality content for children among other things. She has also illustrated seven children's books.


Torill Kove; Image source:

The acclaimed 'My Grandmother Ironed the King's Shirts', (2000) was nominated for an Academy Award® for Best Animated Short. It tells the tale of Kove's grandmother who through independent sleuthing found she was pressing none other than the king's shirts! Set in World War II, Kove's grandmother takes her laundering skills to new heights.


In 2006, her filmThe Danish Poet was the winner of  the Academy Award® for Best Animated Short.  The Danish Poet is  by Liv Ullmann, the Norwegian actor, and director. The long, circuitous tale of an aspiring poet and a farm girl forms the crux of this story. Kove's parents  play a bit part  in this story about waiting in love. 

  Me and My Moulton is the story of Kove's immediate family - her parents and sisters. Set in Norway in the 60's Kove narrates the story of her younger self. The story centers around the deliberated purchase  of a bicycle. The children want to ride around the  neighborhood just like all the other children. Their parents research and buy a Moulton, the superior yet unconventional looking small wheeled bicycle. The children are resigned to having parents who do everything a little differently.


All three shorts celebrate being true to oneself, even if it may be considered unconventional. They capture the inner stories of families, that are remembered and carried forward as part of their identity. The stories became part of family lore and capture the essence of being together. Kove says,

"I am interested in the loneliness that and isolation that we can feel when we hide feelings that we are ashamed of, especially if they concern people that we love."

The shorts have great storylines and children enjoy them immensely. Older children may identify with 'I have a strange family, but they are mine' note that runs through at least two of the shorts. Adult viewers will find much they can relate to and introspect about.