Sila [working title] - a film by TrimTab Media
Produced in collaboration with Alaska Native People, this film illuminates the impact of the climate crisis in coastal Alaska, raising questions about climate justice, cultural survival and reconciliation by exploring two fundamentally different ways of relating with the world.
Inclusion StatementCo-directed in a unique collaboration of American, Finnish and Inuit filmmakers. Throughout the process, we'll seek counsel and feedback from the communities in the heart of the story to ensure they are represented and heard in a proper, respectful way.
About The Project
More than 30 villages in Alaska are under imminent threat from thawing permafrost, sea-level rise and erosion, accelerated by Arctic sea ice retreat that has left shorelines unfrozen and exposed. Relocation cost for each community is hundreds of millions, and state and federal governments have done little to help: no formal relocation policy or national adaptation strategy exists.
Certain Iñupiaq words describing the many forms of sea ice have become obsolete. Black ice, uiñiq, is gone: during the past two decades the sea ice has begun melting from the bottom up. 1994 was the year the village of Kivalina caught its last whale; 2007 was when Shishmaref lost its first hunter to melting ice.
For tens of thousands of years the landscape of Alaska has been held together by permafrost.
We visit the archaeological site of Nunalleq in Kwinhagak, revealed frozen in time from thawing permafrost. As the community races to save the artifacts from being washed away into the Bering Sea, it reconnects with pre-colonial Yup'ik culture. Multi-period prehistoric artifacts speak to the fundamental Yup’ik worldview in which the perimeters in the natural world are permeable: we see a centuries old ivory carving, that is simultaneously a snowy owl and seal, and neither: in the far north, there never were illusions of permanence.
We follow Unangan speaker, author Ilarion Merculieff on his journey across the US and beyond, as he shares his community's story from the Pribilof Islands and offers an entirely new approach to the climate crisis - emphasizing the principles of his traditional upbringing.
In Chefornak, we witness how people are adapting to the rapid changes in the land and sea, and they continue traditional lifeways in the land of their ancestors throughout the four seasons - gathering berries, fishing and hunting seal. We learn of the revival of the once-banned ancestral Yuraq dance, that embodies the Yup'ik conception of the world that is rich in spirit.
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About This Team
TrimTab Media is a team of creative filmmakers that produces independent documentaries that inspire audiences to take action. We're making this film to amplify the voices of indigenous people affected by the impacts the climate crisis.
Our filmmaking team believes in inclusivity and equality, and always strives to hold and include these values in our work. With this film, we know that is more important than ever. We are striving to include diverse perspectives in the film itself and throughout the filmmaking process – in gender, race, indigeneity, cultural identity, religion, and beyond.
For all our team members, the work of this film is to help amplify the many voices and personal stories that have not always been heard in a proper way.
Writer, Producer, Co-Director
A native of Finland, Sonia has worked as an investigative reporter and photojournalist on indigenous and environmental issues for over a decade. In the far north she has come to witness how fundamentally the climate crisis is altering the human experience.
Jacqueline is a documentary filmmaker and cinematographer living in Quinhagak, Alaska. She serves on the Tribal Council and uses film and photography to share the stories of her community.
Mischa A. Hedges
Executive Producer, Co-Director, Cinematographer
Mischa is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and Founder/Chief Storyteller at TrimTab Media. He has produced several short and feature length documentaries, including Sustainable Table, Seeker of Truth, Of the Sea and Women’s March. His passion is telling stories that raise social and environmental awareness and inspire people to action.
Michelle is committed to telling meaningful and moving stories, focused on health and human interest. As an independent producer and TrimTab’s Lead Editor, she brings a decade of experience in documentary video production. Michelle edited the award-winning films Dust, A Plastic Sea and Women’s March.
Director of Photography
Justin is an award-winning cinematographer who produces beautiful images for change-making films. From people to the environment, his images are infused with joy and wonder, reflecting the passion with which he approaches his work. Justin was director of photography on the award-wining films Of The Sea, Women’s March, Dust, and A Plastic Sea.
Nicolai is a gifted documentary filmmaker with a passion for translating "stories from the heart” to the screen. Nicolai has over 10 years of experience working on award winning films and brings creativity and expertise to every project. He is the Editorial Manager at TrimTab Media.
Born on the Pribilof Island of St. Paul and raised in a traditional Aleut community, Ilarion was chosen by the Elders to serve as a bridge between traditional Aleut culture and the outside world. Ilarion has served indigenous peoples over a 35-year career devoted to the environment, human rights, community wellness, economic development, and cultural enhancement.
In addition to teaching and mentoring students in UAF’s Department of Alaska Native Studies and Rural Development, Ms. Ramos is completing her PhD in Indigenous Studies, documenting the 900-year history of Alaska Native relationship to the Hubbard Glacier and seal hunting in the Yakutat Bay. She previously worked in Canada for the Council for Yukon Indian, as their First Nations Education Commissions Executive Director and in Ottawa, Ontario Canada for the Assembly of First Nations as their National Education and Aboriginal Language Policy Analyst. She worked for her tribe the Yakutat Tlingit Tribe as their Anthropologist, NAGPRA Officer and Realty Director.