Madeline Ivalu is a filmmaker, executive producer, director, writer, actor, cultural advisor and musician based in Iglulik (Igloolik), NU. She co-founded Arnait Video Productions, a filmmaking and video collective composed of Inuit and non-Inuit women, in 1991 with Susan Avingaq, Atuat Akkitirq, Carol Kunnuk, Martha Makkar, Mathilda Hanniliaq and Marie-Hélène Cousineau . Arnait’s origininal name, Arnait Ikajurtigiit, means “women helping each other.” Ivalu has also been an integral member of Isuma Distribution International Inc.’s film and video projects. She often collaborates with various cultural organizations such as the Pan-Canadian Inuit Women’s Organization and Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada to represent Inuit women.
Ivalu has produced, directed, written and acted in many notable films, including Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, (2001), The Journals of Knud Rasmussen (2006), Before Tomorrow (2008), Uvanga (2013), SOL (2014) and The Grizzlies (2018). These documentary and fictional films often explore the personal experiences and challenges of Inuit communities living in various regions of Inuit Nunangat. They investigate subjects such as family, Inuit tradition, self-determination, racism, mental health, addiction and the land. They also highlight historical events and the experiences of Inuit families living in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Before Tomorrow, the first film co-directed with fellow Arnait member Marie-Hélène Cousineau, and starring Ivalu, tells the story of an Inuit community within Nunavik, QC during the 1840s, and the devastating effects of smallpox transmitted by traders. The feature won the Best Canadian First Feature Film at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2008, and was nominated for Best Motion Picture, Best Actress (Madeline Ivalu), Best Actor (Paul-Dylan Ivalu), Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay at the 30th Genie Awards, which celebrated outstanding Canadian films, in 2010. Ivalu also starred in Qulliq (Oil Lamp) (1993). This film features various Arnait members reenacting the use and reflecting on the importance of the qulliq in their igloo through songs and words.
Ivalu and Cousineau released their second feature film, Uvanga, in 2013, which reflects themes such as identity, family and community as a young Inuit boy travels from Montreal, QC to Iglulik, NU to learn more about his Inuit family after his father passes away. Ivalu’s other films, such as SOL have also garnered multiple nominations and awards by the Toronto International Film Festival, the Genie Awards, the North America Native Film Festival and the Prix Iris presented by Québec Cinéma.
Ivalu’s most recent film, Restless River, is written and directed by Ivalu and Cousineau. It will be released in fall 2019, and is based on Windflower, a novel written in 1970 by Gabrielle Roy . Starring Malaya Qaunirq-Chapman, as Elsa, the film follows her experiences and challenges as an independent woman in the years after World War II in Nunavik, QC . Ivalu's work and collaboration with Arnait as well as Isuma was featured in Arnait Ikajurtigiit: Women Helping Each Other at the Art Gallery of York University in Toronto, ON. Her work has been reviewed and widely written about in several notable national publications, such as the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Ivalu also shared her memories of the legends of Kiviuq, an Inuit hero, with other elders Miriam Aglukkaq, Susan Avingaq and Qaunaq Mikigak for the theatre production Kiviuq Returns: An Inuit Epic. She was also recently awarded the Birks Diamond Tribute to the Year’s Women in Film with Cousineau at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2015.
2016: SOL won Best Documentary in the North America Native Film Festival in Stuttgart, Germany
2015: Won Birks Diamond Tribute to the Year’s Women in Film with Cousineau at the Toronto International Film Festival
2013: Uvanga received three nominations at the 17th Prix Iris, including Best Sound, Best Editing and Best Original Music
2013: Won Best Film for Uvanga at the Yellowknife International Film Festival
2010: Before Tomorrow was nominated for Best Motion Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay at the 30th Genie Awards
2010: Nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role Before Tomorrow at the 30th Genie Awards
2010: Nominated for Best Direction (Meilleure Réalisation) for Before Tomorrow at the Prix Iris with Marie-Hélène Cousineau
2009: Nominated for the Nueva Vision Award for Before Tomorrow with Marie-Hélène Cousineau at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival
2009: Nominated for the World Cinema – Dramatic, Grand Jury Prize for Before Tomorrow with Marie-Hélène Cousineau at the Sundance Film Festival
2008: Won (jury award) Best Dramatic Feature for Before Tomorrow (with Marie-Hélène Cousineau) at the ImagineNative Film + Media Arts Festival
2008: Won Best Canadian First Feature Film at the Toronto International Film Festival for Before Tomorrow
2008: Won Best Film (with Marie-Hélène Cousineau) for Before Tomorrow at the American Indian Film Festival
2008: Nominated for Best Director (with Marie-Hélène Cousineau) for Before Tomorrow at the American Indian Film Festival
2003: Won Honourable Mention, Best Documentary for Anaana (2001) with Atuat Akkitirq, Susan Avingaq, Marie-Hélène Cousinaeu and Carol Kunnuk at the ImagineNative Film + Media Arts Festival