Ellavut Cimirtuq [our world is changing]

Quinhagak, Alaska | Film Short

Documentary, Nature

Mischa Hedges

3 Campaigns | California, United States

Green Light

This campaign raised $26,744 for production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

220 supporters | followers

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As an archeological team digs to save cultural artifacts from rising sea levels in her coastal village, a Yupik filmmaker explores her tribe's relationship with its language, subsistence hunting and cultural traditions in Alaska.

About The Project

  • The Story
  • Wishlist
  • Updates
  • The Team
  • Community

Mission Statement

Co-directed in a unique collaboration of American, Finnish and Inuit filmmakers, with review, counsel and feedback from the communities in the heart of the story.

The Story


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.

This short documentary helps us learn the story of one village facing rising sea levels, hastening a story of cultural revival.

NOTE: Originally planned as a feature documentary following the story of multiple villages, this project was limited by budget constraints and COVID travel limitations. The filmmakers decided to adapt their original concept into one story focused on Quinhagak so this story can be seen, heard and learned from despite challenges in the filmmaking process.

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.

Yupik filmmaker Jacki Cleveland explores how this project is hastening a cultural revival in her village - and explores her community's relationship with their language, dance, and cultural traditions as climate change is threatening subsistence, their village site and homes.



Use the WishList to Pledge cash and Loan items - or - Make a pledge by selecting an Incentive directly.

Cash Pledge

Costs $0

Editing - Rough Cut

Costs $5,000

We'll edit a rough cut for grant applications and pitches to networks like National Geographic.

Production Team

Costs $15,000

To compensate our filmmaking team for hundreds of hours writing, researching, filming, and editing.

Cultural Advisors

Costs $3,000

We would like to compensate the film's cultural advisors for their time and expertise.

Travel Expenses

Costs $4,500

Travel between villages in Alaska is via small plane, and costs will be significant for our crew.

Website + Poster Design

Costs $2,500

We'll build a basic website to build and audience for the film, and design a poster for the film.

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.


Sonia Luokkala
Writer, Producer, Co-Director

Photojournalist and writer of Finnish-Amazigh descent, Sonia has covered indigenous and environmental topics for over a decade. In the far north, she has come to witness how fundamentally the climate crisis is altering the human experience.


Jacqueline Cleveland
Co-Director, Cinematographer

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 Olivera

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.


Justin Lewis
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 Crane
Post-Production Supervisor

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.


Ilarion Merculieff
Project Advisor

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.


Judith Ramos

Project Advisor

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.

Current Team