Anders Walter and Rebecca Pruzan (‘Ivalu’) on finding beauty and poetry in dark tale of abuse [Exclusive Video Interview]

“It’s just an extra chance to come back and enjoy it,” exclaims Oscar-winning filmmaker Anders Walter about earning his second Oscar nomination for Best Live Action Short Film. Walter is nominated this year alongside producer Rebecca Pruzan for the drama “Ivalu,” which follows a young girl’s desperate search for her missing sister. Walter won in this category back in 2013 for the film, “Helium.” Check out our exclusive video chat above.

Based on the graphic novel by Morten Dürr and Lars Horneman, “Ivalu” follows a young girl named Pipaluk (Mila Heilmann Kreutzmann) as she searches for older sister Ivalu, who has gone missing in the wilderness of Greenland. As Pipaluk searches for her sister, the audience learns that Ivalu was being sexually abused by the girls’ father.

Walter was given the graphic novel by a friend, and the director was initially reluctant to tackle such difficult subject matter. However, he was struck by how the graphic novel juxtaposed the horror of the story with poetry and natural imagery. “The graphic novel was really striking and special and unique,” he says. “The story about dealing with incest just came across in a totally different way than I would expect anyone to handle that subject matter.”

Pruzan says that the team was determined to shoot the film in Greenland, a process that carried its own unique challenges due to the country’s volatile climate. “We really had to take into account all of the time that there could be a snowstorm. There weather there changes from one minute to another,” she says. “This weather can be dramatic. So even though we had it planned…we were just so lucky that everything just worked out.”

The team says that they lucked out in the casting of Kreutzmann, who must shoulder the burden of conveying the emotions of this difficult story. For Walter, who has worked with young actors in many of his films, the secret to getting those rich performances comes down to a matter of trust. “I think trusting them is not talking to them like they’re kids or trying to talk down to them,” he argues. “Try to meet them at eye level because they will get it.”

While “Ivalu” has brought Walter to the Oscars for a second time, this Pruzan’s first nomination — and her first film. However, she’s not exactly new to the Oscar experience. Her husband, Kim Magnusson, is a two-time winner in this category, including for Walter’s previous Oscar-winner “Helium.” “I believe Rebecca was also sitting next to me when I won the Oscar in 2014,” he jokes. Pruzan recalls the joy upon hearing of the nomination. “It was like an explosion of happiness and joy,” she recalls. “It was such a fantastic joy to experience this recognition of the film and all of the hard work that so many people put into this film.”

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