A lifelong love for animation

PROFILE. The French animation festival in Annecy has dedicated a special programme for the Oscar-winning Danish animator Børge Ring. One of the few truly international filmmakers in Europe, says his former student Hans Perk from A.Film.

The name Børge Ring is probably less recognizable than Mads Mikkelsen or Thomas Vinterberg. But Børge Ring has actually accomplished something that the other gentlemen can still only hope to achieve. It started with an Academy Award nomination in 1978 for the short film "Oh My Darling" and was followed six years later in 1984 when he won an Academy Award for his short film "Anna and Bella".

Today, Børge Ring is 91 years old and lives in the Netherlands with his wife Joanika. If you ask his former student and great admirer, Hans Perk, there's no doubt about the importance of Børge Ring.

"Børge has clearly been one of the most important influences on my life, if not the most important," he says. Perk is a founding member of the Danish animation studio A.Film, whose works include "Help! I'm a Fish", "Terkel in Trouble" and "Journey to Saturn". It all started with a television programme about Børge Ring.

"I first saw Børge in 1978 in a Dutch television programme about his Oscar-nominated short "Oh My Darling". In the credits it said that Børge lived 10 minutes away from me. It didn't take me long to find him in the phone book, call him up and be invited to his home. It was my first encounter with professional animation on an international level. Børge turned out to be not only a skilled craftsman, but deeply in love with his medium. Animation is his life. He convinced me that it was possible to choose animation as a profession, as a basis for one's existence, something many had told me was impossible," says Hans Perk.

Børge and the music

Børge Ring's father, Oluf Ring, was a teacher and a composer, and he inspired Børge in pursuing one of his other great interests, music. Børge Ring is a renowned jazz musician and has composed music for several of his own films. He has worked most of his life in the Netherlands, first with the renowned Dutch animation producer and artist Marten Toonder, and later as a freelancer. Music and animation have been two crucial elements of Børge Ring's life.

"Already back in the 1940s, he demonstrated that his ability as a musician is reflected in an accurate sense of timing and a keen perceptiveness, both invaluable skills in the animation industry. Børge is still the one with whom I discuss the many subjects that interest us both: animation, timing, narrative. We also share a love for the old black-and-white films that Disney made in the early 1930's that Børge saw for the first time when he was a boy. Many of the principles I put to use in my daily work as a filmmaker I've acquired during the four years I worked with Børge," says Hans Perk.

Børge Ring continues to dominate Danish animation today. He is not put off, not even when his home burned to the ground in February. Recently he was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual Annie Awards for his exceptional contribution to animation. We let Børge Ring have the last word:

"Like most of us do, I, too, have a lifelong love relationship with animation. A friendly lady once asked me: Mister Ring, how long does it take to become good at animation, really good?" "I shall tell you as soon as I have discovered it – and you will be the first to know."

This year, Annecy International Animation Film Festival (4-10 June) has dedicated a programme to Børge Ring, featuring his Academy Award-nominated and -winning shorts. Se more at Annecy's website.

See also Børge Ring's own website www.borgering.com  

Anna og Bella