Oscars: <I>Ivalu</I>
Marc Loftus
January 13, 2023

Oscars: Ivalu

Anders Walter’s Ivalu is based on the graphic novel of the same name, and shares the story of a young girl, who’s been deeply impacted by the disappearance of her sister. This live-action short was shot in Greenland and is now in consideration for an Academy Award. 

Anders Walter is an Oscar-winning film director and screenwriter, who was recognized in 2014 for his short film Helium. Additionally, his film 9 Meter was shortlisted for an Oscar in 2013. 

Ivalu was produced by Rebecca Pruzan and Kim Magnusson, and touches on taboo topics such as incest, rape and suicide. In the short, young Ivalu has disappeared, leaving her sister Pipaluk desperate to find her. She explores Greenland’s icy landscape alone, with a single raven staying close by and seemingly giving her direction. Her father, on the other hand, expresses little concern over Ivalu’s disappearance, and the viewer ultimately learns of his dark secret.

Photo: Director Anders Walter

The cast features newcomers Mila Heilmann Kreutzmann (Pipaluk) and Nivi Larsen (Ivalu). Greenlandic actor Angunnguaq Larsens portrays their father.

“The structure of Ivalu is quite different from my other films,” Walter explains. “The film relies a lot more on tone and mood than my previous works, and editing became quite a challenge, as there were many ways to go about the structure for the film. I have never spent so much time editing a short, trying multiple storylines and insisting on keeping the structure open. I wanted the film to feel like a piece of poetry, where you slowly get sucked into the tone and mood, and less a feeling of a linear story. So much of the poetry depended on Mila's voiceover. It had to feel almost hypnotic, and at the same time, the evolving suspense had to have a strong presence. That balance was extremely difficult, but I believe we cracked the code in the end.”

An Arriflex camera was used for the 10-day shoot, and vintage Russian prime lenses helped to give the imagery its somewhat distorted and soft feeling. Live-action footage of the ever-present raven was shot separately in the Czech Republic and added later in post. 3D elements of the bird were also used for smaller and distant perspectives.

“Nature plays such an important part in the story, and the vast nature helped the film elevate to a more poetic visual tale,” Walter concludes.