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The film Ivalu, based on the award-winning graphic novel by Morten Dürr, has been nominated for a 2023 Academy Award for Short Film (Live Action). The 16-minute short, directed by Anders Walter and Pipaluk K. Jørgensen, follows Pipaluk (played by 11-year-old Mila Heilmann Kreutzmann) who wakes up one morning to find that her sister, Ivalu (played by 16-year-old Nivi Larsen) has disappeared. Pipaluk sets off on a journey to locate her missing sister throughout the landscape of Greenland, where the short was filmed.
On Monday, February 27, Heilmann Kreutzmann and Larsen participated in the virtual discussion, “Ivalu: In Conversation on the Oscar-nominated Film.” The online event, which was moderated by Kalaaleq artist Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory, is part of the Ilisarniq Series—a series of online programs produced by the Inuit Art Foundation and Inuit Futures in Arts Leadership. This particular workshop was funded in part by the Indigenous Screen Office.
In the film, Pipaluk experiences flashbacks to moments spent with her sister, one of which is Ivalu telling Pipaluk the story of the Mother of the Sea who lived in the depths of the ocean. Other memories reveal a darker side of sexual abuse at home at the hands of their father, signaling to what might have happened to Ivalu. Both Heilmann Kreutzmann and Larsen speak about the difficulties with making the film due not only to the heavy subject matter, but the fact that this was both of the young actors’ first film. “At the beginning it was hard,” says Larsen. “I had to scream and show difficult emotions.”
The mothers of both actors were also a part of the virtual conversation, illustrating their support for their daughters now and during the making of the film. “My mom and I would practice [my lines] together,” says Heilmann Kreutzmann. “She would play Ivalu and I would [play] Pipaluk.”
Williamson Bathory praises both Heilmann Kreutzmann and Larsen for their acting debuts, noting how impactful the film and its subject matter is. “It was very moving, extremely beautiful, and actually very difficult,” says Williamson Bathory of watching the film in Berlin, Germany. “I was amazed at how as young people they were able to hold all of those truths.”
The actors and their mothers express excitement and anticipation about attending the Oscars, which takes place on Sunday, March 12.