Once a Glacier

About Once a Glacier

Once a Glacier is a VR film about a young girl and her relationship with a glacier. As the girl grows older, the piece of ice is threatened, and the viewer is taken on a journey through her seemingly futile efforts to protect what was once an entire glacier. The story is inspired by Jiabao Li’s own experience from two years that she lived in Alaska, where she was the young girl protecting a piece of ice in the freezer. In Inupiaq tradition, a tribe of indigenous people from northwestern Alaska, glaciers carry memories from the past and communicate them in song. The climate crisis has become a terrifying reality that includes seeing the end of glaciers—the end of these sung histories—happen before our eyes. Once a Glacier shows a gesture of nurturing, and whether the girl’s efforts are successful or not, the work suggests a poignant level of grace and humility for moving forward into the future.

Once a Glacier Scene 2


Once a Glacier Scene 6
Once a Glacier Scene 5

Project Details


Director & Writer: Jiabao Li
Executive/Creative Producer: Jenny Qinya Guo
VR Artist: Denis Semenov
3D Artist: Kirill Klochkov
Sound Artist: Matt McCorkle
Poet: Joan Naviyuk Kane 
Illustration: Boxiang Yu
Grandma Voice-over: Carolyn Nahyoumaurak
Girl Voice-over: Annika Schmidt
Line Producer: Cooper Galvin
Advisor: Julie Decker, James Temte
Science Advisor: Marco Tedesco


Unreal Engine, C4D, Quill, VR headset

Awards & Showings

Cannes world film festival Best VR shorts award; Showing at New Lab, organized by NEW INC by New Museum; Anchorage Museum; Beijing Today Art Museum Biennale; Climate Week NYC


Anchorage Museum, Bloomberg Philanthropies
Femme Futures Grant
Artists in Nature International Network

Special Thanks

NEW INC, New Museum 
Serpentine Gallery
Alaska State Museum
EPOCH Gallery

Watch Once a Glacier

Once a Glacier Scene 3