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What Does Ice Want?

When four researchers drill ice cores in the Arctic, they pass through environmental memories that go back millions of years.

Via Scientific World:

Ice is both the narrator and the protagonist in Utuqaq, a short film by award-winning filmmaker, Iva Radivojević. Narrated in Kalaallisut and brought to life by the voice of Inuit microbiologist, Aviaja Lyberth, Utuqaq tells those witnessing that: “Ice has memory. Ice remembers. Ice carries a message.” 

Invited by Rutgers University, Iva joined a group of climate scientists and documented their investigation of the ice sheet loss in Greenland. The second largest body of ice in the world, the Greenland ice sheet covers nearly 1.8 million square kilometres, which is roughly 80% of the surface of the island. According to scientists, that ice is melting seven times faster than in the 1990s. 

Utuqaq—meaning “ice that lasts year after”—provides a visual experience that contemplates the nature of Western scientific expeditions. The sentient ice in this film watches the scientists as they drill and prod, “There are visitors here. What do they want?” the ice asks in the opening scene, as the camera pans over a vast stretch of snow. 

“While filming, I kept thinking about how the history of science and expedition work is not free of colonialism,” says Iva who filmed Utuqaq in 2018 during an Arctic expedition to Greenland, “The scientists are visitors here.” 

In fact, Iva filmed the scientists at a distance to depict them in this way, hoping to capture from the perspective of spirit. “Somebody is watching them. They’re being observed by the spirits of the land, the spirit of the ice.” 

Iva Radivojević is an artist and filmmaker who was born in Belgrade and currently divides her time between subarctic Alaska, Brooklyn, and Lesbos. Her many films include the feature-length documentary Evaporating Borders and the short film Notes from the Border. She co-wrote and edited the film All That Passes By Through a Window That Doesn’t Open, winner of the Regard Neuf Award at Visions Du Reel. Iva’s films have screened at NYFF, SXSW, DocLisboa, Museum of Modern Art (NYC), Dokufest, PBS, ARTE France, and New York Times Op-Docs. She is the recipient of the Sundance Art of Non-Fiction Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the NYFA Fellowship, and a Princess Grace Special Project Award and Film Fellowship.


Directed by Iva Radivojević
Produced by Charlotte Cook
Narrated and translated by Aviaja Lyberth
Cinematography by Iva Radivojević
Edited by Iva Radivojević
Sound design by Sarah Enid Hagey
Sound mixing by Kevin T. Allen

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