OSCAR QUALIFYING FILM IVALU: Producer Spotlight on Rebecca Pruzan “Abuse is the children’s problem but the adults’ responsibility to do something about it.”

We had the pleasure of interviewing Rebecca Pruzan, one of the producers of the Oscar-qualified film, Ivalu. This is a beautiful, heart-wrenching story of two sisters who are each forced to take control of their situation in differing ways.

What was the process of converting this story from graphic novel to short film?

Anders Walter and I had some great talks about the graphic novel and how we felt the need to change the narrative of the novel. Anders then wrote the script based on the novel but with a different ending. Our aim was that the movie should be both a touching and important story about how childhood can be stolen from you in a brutal way, but that hope and imagination can survive nonetheless. That even in the most lonely and fragile situation there is hope – you are not alone.

What inspired you to come on as a producer for this film?

Anders Walter, gave me the graphic novel to read and to see if I had the same reaction as he did while reading it. I was blown away by the brutality of the story and the poetry and magic of the pictures. To be able to tell a story in such a poetic and beautiful way and at the same time covering one of the biggest tabus of our time: Incest. After reading the novel I knew I wanted to produce the film and help Anders Walter make the story become alive.

Nivi Larsen as Ivalu

What was it like working with such talented young actresses and how did you go about casting them?

We worked closely with the Greenlandic Production Company, Polarama Greenland. Due to Covid we had to do all casting via zoom and were also deeply dependent on their impressions of the girls. As the film covers such a sensitive topic, we also had to make sure that the girls – and their families – were robust and that they understood the seriousness of the film.

Even though I had great expectations the performance of the girls blew me away. They were both young and inexperienced and had to work intensely on such a disturbing subject. Both girls were so sincere and professional in their acting. We couldn’t have had better actresses than Mila Heilmann Kreutzmann (Pipaluk) and Nivi Larsen (Ivalu).

Congratulations on qualifying to be shortlisted for the Oscars! How does it feel to qualify on the first short film you have produced?

To me the important part of this process is that being in this race can help spread the knowledge of IVALU to as broad an audience as possible. And the response we are getting on the film already now makes me humble and proud.

What do you hope audiences take away from this film?

I hope it will create more focus on the subject of the film: incest and child abuse. In my eyes one of the biggest taboos of our time and even if it hurts to talk about and shed light on, it is necessary if we want to change something for the far too large number of children who are victims of this devastating act. To be afraid and exposed where safety should be greatest: at home with your family. Abuse is the children’s problem but the adults’ responsibility to do something about it. Regardless of culture and nationality. We wanted to create a film which can be a starting point for teaching and dialogue and help break down the taboo that exists around abuse and incest. I hope we will succeed in doing just that.

Abuse is the children’s problem but the adults’ responsibility to do something about it. Regardless of culture and nationality.

Talk a little bit about your creative process. How was it collaborating with Anders and Kim?

I have known Anders for many years, and I know his creative process quite well. I also know that he has an unusual compassion for children in need and for some unknown reason has devoted most of his film career in to creating stories of children in situations that demand grown up help and attention. I truly enjoyed our close work together. Our ability to shake off the brutality when necessary. To always take the point of view of the child.

Kim is my husband and we have worked together on different levels for many years. But this is the first film where I am the main producer. Honestly, it did have some obstacles in the beginning as the rolls had shifted from him being the lead. I think it was hardest for him. But when I look back at the work, we have done I am truly proud and game on doing more films together. I hope he feels the same.

Mila Heilmann Kreutzmann as Pipaluk

What does it mean to you to tell a story about children in an indigenous community?

This is of course a sensitive matter. To tell a story about children from a different culture than your own. But that is what telling stories is all about. To be able to Interpret and transform feelings and situations and express them in your own pictures. As almost the entire team of the film is local, we constantly challenged the way we depicted the life and myths of Greenland.  The story takes place in Greenland but is a universal taboo.

To me the even greater challenge was to cover the sensitive subject. Therefore, I was very dependent on psychologists in both Greenland and Denmark. They read the script and the production bible closely and their advice was essential in the depiction of the feelings and reactions of the girls.

If you could use three words to describe the film, what would they be?

Poetic, brutal, necessary

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