The whimsical and charming
world of Torill Kove

Her latest animated film Threads explores relationships at various stages

By Byron Toben

Westmount’s Atwater Library, located on its eastern boundary line with the city of Montreal, has held many wide ranging topics in its popular lunchtime series of free lectures. See the end of this review for some of my favorites.

March 1 hosted Concordia and McGill alumna Torill Kove discussing and exhibiting her latest, Threads. Here is the trailer:

Threads is about half the length of her other award winning films and purposively done in a ‘minimal’ style.

Born in Norway and an immigrant to Canada in her early 20s, she eventually became associated with the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) and, often in co-operation with an Oslo firm, produced a series of whimsical and charming animated shorts.

My Grandmother Ironed the King’s Shirts (1999) was nominated for an Academy Award and remains my own favourite.

The Danish Poet (2000) won the Academy Award. (I only recently discovered that its narration was by my cultural “pin up” gal, Liv Ulmann.)

Me and My Moulton (2014) received lots of critical acclaim. (A Moulton, for those of us who grew up believing that Schwinn was the ultimate in bikes, was the rage in Continental Europe.)

These three can be found on the NFB web site. All three feature the creative background music of McGill jazz professor Kevin Dean.

Threads, Ms. Kove admits, is inspired by her own experience as an adoptive parent of a baby girl, now 15. However, she adds, it is not a film about the process of adoption. It concentrates on relationships at various stages.

One of the interesting factals in her talk was the use of digital displays of different colours or shades thereof to choose from. She often employs a professional ‘colourist’ (yes, there are such experts) to aid in the selection.

Between films, she has managed to illustrate some children’s books and even direct someone else’s animated Swedish film.

Oh yes, off hand, some of my favorite noontime lectures at the Atwater over the years, a series which has flourished since executive director Lynn Verge came on board in 1995, were:

Ada Lovelace – (Lord Byron’s daughter!) who became the world’s first computer expert.
Deep Time – How scientific evidence has moved the origin of Earth and the universe back from the biblical 6000 years to 4.53 billion years (quelle difference!)
A Child’s Christmas in Wales – Annual reading of Dylan Thomas’s great work.

Check out Atwater Library events at

Bouton S'inscrire à l'infolettre – WestmountMag.caFeature image: frame from Threads – Torill Kove

Read also: The Threepenny Opera lives on in superb production

Byron Toben is the immediate past-president of the Montreal Press Club.

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