But what’s even more groundbreaking, is the movement that is underway in Greenland: Ivalu is filmed entirely in Greenland, in the Greenlandic language, by Greenlandic actors and supported by an all Greenlandic crew.
Danish Director Anders Walter, whose idea was to adapt the acclaimed graphic novel of the same namesake to film, was in complete support of this constellation. The cooperation worked so well that the film ended up being co-directed by Pipaluk K. Jørgensen, who played a key role in the development, casting, and filming process.
“Ivalu” tells the story of Pipaluk, an 11-year-old Greenlandic girl, who goes searching for her missing older sister Ivalu. One night Pipaluk dreams of a raven leading her to her sister, and when a raven appears the next morning, Pipaluk follows it. Greenlandic myths are woven into a poetic journey full of memories that mask a harsh reality.
The social issues touched upon in this movie are interwoven with stunning panoramic motifs of icescapes, Arctic tundra nature, seascape and city life – resulting in a compellingly beautiful film. The film was shot on location in Nuuk, the nearby abandoned settlement of Kangeq, and Kangerlussuaq.
Nevertheless, it took some time for Polarama Greenland to finally decide to join the project. According to Pipaluk K. Jørgensen in an exclusive Q&A hosted by Vincent Lambe, the Greenlandic film industry is at a tipping point right now, and stories about Greenland that deal with social problems and colonialism should really be told from a Greenlandic perspective. But after meeting Anders Walter, they decided that they could work together.
For filmmakers looking to go to Greenland, Emile Hertling Péronard, co-owner of Polarama Greenland has the following tips to filming in Greenland:
What are the opportunities for the international film industry in Greenland?
Greenland has incredible landscapes, beautiful nature, and stunning light, but its most spectacular features are its people and our culture. In recent years, Greenland has been getting international attention like never before. International crews are coming to shoot documentary films about global warming, news channels are reporting geopolitical stories about the changing Arctic, and filmmakers are intrigued by the complex meetings between so-called traditional Indigenous culture and this new global agenda.
If you’re planning to shoot a film centering Greenlandic issues, we have the crew and the expertise to support you, and to empower you to make an authentic portrayal. Greenland is not an easy location to shoot, but with the right help and preparations, you can get something here that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Many times, when we’ve prepared shoots in Greenland for international projects, the producers seem to think Greenland is this unclimbable mountain. But we can make it easier.
How can the film industry help tourism in Greenland?
Film productions can be an integral part of the tourism eco-system. As more films and TV-series break into the mainstream, we also expect that tourists will want to visit for instance the Icefjord in Ilulissat where the TV-show “Borgen” was shot or see the abandoned settlement Kangeq from the Oscar-nominated short film “Ivalu”.
Our films help put Greenland on the map, and on the screens worldwide we have a strong platform where we can showcase our country with all the emotions and magic of storytelling. Our work can help build worldwide interest for our locations, so for me it’s a very natural thing that we’re now trying to strengthen our ties with the Greenlandic tourism industry. Together, we can showcase Greenland internationally, and at the same time develop a stronger and more sustainable film industry in Greenland.
How can the local Greenlandic film and tourism community help film crews coming to Greenland?
At Polarama Greenland, we try to be a one stop shop for international film production, where we can provide crew, plan shoots, and even do the casting process. We also advise on content from a cultural and creative point of view, which is extremely important when you’re shooting within an Indigenous culture. There are lots of skilled Greenlandic people that can help, both as technical crew and for more practical on ground services. Greenland also has a filmmakers’ association, FILM.GL, and several tourist operators service film and TV productions. It’s always advised to work with local providers as we know the conditions better than anyone. And we can make sure the stories are told from the right perspective.
What tips would you give for anyone who wants to make a film in Greenland?
Listen to the locals. And be open to schedule changes. In Greenland, the nature is so vast and powerful that you immediately understand that it controls you and not the other way around. When scheduling your shoot, flexibility is essential, so always make room for potential delays due to weather and place your interior shoots late in your schedule so they can be moved forward if needed. When you have a flexible schedule, you can also make use of all the unexpected gifts that shooting in Greenland always provides!
Article by Tanny Por