Oscar nod for Canadian animator's The Danish Poet

Montreal animator Torill Kove has earned an Academy Award nomination for best animated short for her 15-minute movie The Danish Poet.

Montrealanimator Torill Kove has earned an Academy Award nomination for best animated short for her 15-minute movie The Danish Poet.

It'sthe second Oscar nomination for Kove, who earned a nod in 2000 for another animated film, My Grandmother Ironed the King's Shirts.
In Torill Kove's animated short, a Danish poet sets out on a journey to visit a famous writer, but on the way he falls in love. ((National Film Board of Canada))

"I feel really good about it. It's really exciting," she said on Tuesday from Montreal.

It also marks the 69th Academy Award nomination for the National Film Board (NFB), whose Marcy Page produced the film with Norway's MikroFilm AS. Page also produced the Oscar-winning Ryan for the NFB.

The Danish Poet follows a poet called Kaspar, who travels to Norway to meet a famous writer. On the way, he deals with bad weather, an angry dog, hungry goats and a broken heart.

"I was going through a period of my life when I was thinking about the kind of trail you leave behind you in life," Kove said in an interview with CBC Arts Online. "You look back at your past and see it as a map of where you've been."

Although it deals with serious themes like artistic inspiration and how small decisions change the course of life, The Danish Poet is full of quirky humour.

"When I set out to write the story I intended it to be a more serious film, a darker film," Kove said.

The quirky images of The Danish Poet are filmmaker Torill Kove's trademark. ((National Film Board of Canada))

"But try as I might, the real me comes to the surface. I have a slapstick gene and that comes to the surface."

Kove works in an old-fashioned animation style, drawing the original figures and backgrounds in pencil and scanning in the images and adding colour using digital technology.

For the skies, she sought something that would "stand out" and used backgrounds by artist Anne Ashton.

Narration by Liv Ulmann

Norwegian actress Liv Ullmann narrates the story. She recorded the script in a single day in Oslo, an event that was a "career highlight" for Kove.

Norwegian-born Kove moved to Canada and pursued a career in urban planning before coming to animation. She studied animation at Concordia University and has worked in a variety of roles on NFB productions.

In addition to her work in animation, she has illustrated three children's books.

The Danish Poet has a Genie nomination for best animated short and has won awards at the New York Short Film Festival, the Aspen Shortfest, and theWorldwide Short Film Festival in Toronto.

The NFB helped bring the film to the festival circuit, and its awards there help it qualify for an Academy Award.

Kove says The Danish Poet has already sold to Norwegian TV, and she says she hopes it will now attract attention from broadcasters in North America.

She plans to attend the the 79th Annual Academy Awards ceremony, to be held Sunday, Feb. 25, in Los Angeles.

Other contenders in the best animated short categoryinclude Walt Disney's The Little Matchgirl, Geza Toth's Maestro and Pixar's Lifted.

Another film in the animated shorts category, No Time for Nuts, about the little squirrel who was the star of Ice Age, was co-directed by Regina-born and raised Michael Thurmeier who works at animation house Blue Sky with co-director Chris Renaud.