Once a Glacier tells the story of a relationship between a girl and a glacier through a live, mixed reality performance using motion capture technology. As the girl grows older, the ice increasingly faces the threat of disappearing, and the viewer is taken on a journey through her seemingly futile efforts to protect what was once an entire glacier. This film demonstrates how a human lifetime relates to natural phenomena. We think of nature's timelines in terms of thousands of years, and a human's lifetime as less than one hundred, but with the current speed of climate change, numerous glaciers are vanishing within our lifetimes.
The story is inspired by Jiabao Li’s experience living in Alaska for two years as a young girl, where she tried to protect a piece of ice in the freezer. In Inupiaq tradition, a tribe of indigenous people from northwestern Alaska, glaciers carry memories from the past, that are recounted in song. The climate crisis has become a terrifying reality, one in which we are seeing the end of glaciers—the end of their sung histories—happen before our very eyes. Once a Glacier shows a gesture of nurturing, and conveys—whether the girl’s efforts are successful or not—a poignant measure of gratitude and humility for moving forward into the future.
Creator: Jiabao Li
Executive Producer: Jenny Qinya Guo
Technical Artists: Denis Semenov,Kirill Klochkov, Boxiang Yu
Sound: Matt McCorkle
Choreographer: Dorothy Overbey
Poet: Joan Naviyuk Kane
Narration: Carolyn Nahyoumaurak and Annika Schmidt
Screenplay: Jiabao Li, Cooper Galvin