Elegy For A Glacier
When a glaciologist returns to her hometown to assess the nearby glacier for its prospective use as a ski resort, she finds herself confronted with her estranged eco-activist mother, who challenges her impartial stance and its impact on the town. A contemporary western set in a dying landscape.
Mission StatementElegy for A Glacier is the Columbia University thesis film of Stephanie Falkeis (Writer-Director) and Nicholas Nyhof (Producer). A mother-daughter drama at heart, the film investigates challenging questions at the intersection of climate justice, scientific impartiality, and economic interest.
About The Project
ELEGY FOR A GLACIER is a contemporary western set in a disappearing landscape, with the dying glacier as the quintessential untamed frontier - wild, archaic, awe and fear inspiring - and dying much too fast, possibly already beyond saving. At the heart of the story is the relationship of an eco-activist mother and her glaciologist daughter who is called in to assess the glacier’s health and future on behalf of the town council of her hometown.
In the time capsule of her childhood home, the daughter discovers just how far her mother is willing to go in her activism to protect the glacier, while the mother discovers her daughter might just be the perfect tool to win this fight and tries to manipulate her into falsifying her scientific data.
The two strong-willed women are forced to reckon with their estrangement and difficult past as they find themselves on different sides of an ideological divide, and their differing stance on justice and conflicting approaches to saving the glacier and consequently their home reopens old familial wounds. While the town hopes to revamp the natural world to revilatize the economy for tourism, mother and daugther are forced to grapple with their sense of powerlessness in the face of a rapidly changing environment and the potential loss of their home.
The health of the earth’s glaciers often serve as the planet’s first warning sign of things to come. The future state of our planet has scared us more and more with each passing year as glaciers across the earth continue to recede and die - the implications of which we have yet to fully see. We are currently amidst one of the hottest summers on record. We are excited about this opportunity to tell this story about a small community that faces challenges we are all affected by on a global scale, and include the perspectives of glaciologists and activists.
DIRECTOR'S STATEMENT/FILMMAKER'S VISION
"During the pandemic, I returned to my childhood home in the Austrian Alps and revisited the nearby glacier. During my years of absence, it had changed beyond recognition. In between the barren brown bedrock, the few remaining scraps of ice covered with insulating sheets in a futile attempt to slow it’s melting and inevitable disappearance. I was surprised how much this precarious image started to haunt me. It had a melancholy to it. Something so ancient, thousands of years old, something that had always felt immortal - I would experience it’s death within my own lifespan. A human life being only the blink of an eye in the lifetime of the glacier. This movie was born out of the acute desire to try and understand my own inaction and feeling of powerlessness towards the seemingly inevitable.
I am drawn to this story because it feels both personal and universal, acutely local and community-focused while also of global reach and implication, and urgent in it’s reflection of how the natural world being in jeopardy both unites and divides us in our fear. I have always been interested in investigating through storytelling how the (changing) landscape becomes politicised, especially how these tensions materializes if the land is the place we call home.
I am encouraged and excited by the support and advice we have received from both activists and scientists - generously offering their time and expertise to help me write this story as authentically as possible. I am confident they will remain a great source of wisdom and inspiration going forward and bringing this world and these characters to life."
- Stephanie Falkeis
Penelope, is a glaciologist who lives for her work and is considered one of the best in her field. She comes across as stoic, guarded, always keeping a professional distance, and is considered a bit of a lone wolf. She was raised by her single mother and as a child Penelope was fully on board with her mothers activism, but in her teenage years she started craving her own space and privacy, and started to realize the invasiveness and manipulative side of her mother, who didn’t allow for any opinion beside hers, eventually forcing Penelope to move away to build her own life, leading to their estrangement. An acute feeling of isolation follows her wherever she goes, and is trown into stark relief for her upon returning home.
Diana, has been a polarizing figure in the conservative town ever since her early involvement in feminist movements. She is an intelligent and natural leader with the charisma of those completely certain in their ways and beliefs. She feels her daughter takes the freedom of her generation for granted and never thanked her for fighting for it. Having an “injustice” about to be committed so close to home, threatening not only the glacier but the way of life Diana believes in, she is readying herself for one last battle and calling in all her former sisters-in-arms. This time she is willing to go further than ever before - because, after all, what does she have to lose?
Stephanie Falkeis is an Austrian director and screenwriter currently completing her MFA at Columbia University on a Fulbright Fellowship. She is a BAFTA Newcomers Talent and alum of the Telluride Film Festival Symposium. Her work often deals with notions of otherness and belonging, memory, and our relationship to the natural world. Her historical Miniseries ‘The Invisible Sister’ received the prestigious ‘Heldinnen in Serie’ award and development funding from FISA Austria. Her short films have screened internationally in cinemas, galleries and festivals. From 2015-2018 she produced and curated the bilateral Austrian American Short Film Festival, which she also co-founded.
Nicholas Nyhof is a Canadian film producer from Toronto and is currently pursuing an MFA, Film in Creative Producing at Columbia University. He has a passion for storytelling across all genres and often finds himself connecting most-strongly with stories that seek to thrill and entertain their audiences through adventure beyond the ordinary, and characters that explode onto the screen. @nicholas.nyhof
We are proud that our film, ELEGY FOR A GLACIER, is supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. However, the scale of the narrative we're telling requires additional support in order to properly tell it.
With one of the only accessible glaciers (technically, it lost this status a few years ago) in the continental US located in Colorado, we must travel cast and crew, and provide housing and food throughout the production.
We are set to begin production in late September and we're seeking an additional $10,000 USD to support the telling of this mother & daughter story set against the backdrop of a world that's dying and a fight for our future.
COVID-19 changed the way filmmakers operate around the world. In accordance with Columbia University’s Phase 2 Production Protocols and SAG-AFTRA COVID Protocols, we will be ensuring that all cast & crew provide proof of a negative PCR test no more than 72 hours before the start of production. Masks will be worn on set at all times, and any actors who appear unmasked on camera will be administered an antigen test prior to the start of each day.
A Covid Compliance Officer (CCO) will be present on set throughout the production to ensure rules and regulations are complied with for the safety of all cast and crew involved.
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Help support the amazing filmmakers Stephanie Falkeis and @nicholas.nyhof by supporting their thesis film, ELEGY FOR A GLACIER, about a mother and daughter and the dying glacier between them. Join them on @seedandspark: bit.ly/elegyforaglacier
ELEGY FOR A GLACIER is an incredibly relevant film that needs to be told - we have seen unparallelled diaster as a result of climate change. Help be part of telling this outstanding story by supporting Stephanie Falkeis and @Nicholas.Nyhof in their @SeedAndSpark: bit.ly/elegyforaglacier
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About This Team
Stephanie Falkeis is an Austrian director and screenwriter currently completing her MFA at Columbia University on a Fulbright Fellowship. She is an alum of the Telluride Film Festival Symposium and has recently been selected for the La Fémis Co-Production Atelier in Paris and the BAFTA Newcomers Program. Her historical Miniseries ‘The Invisible Sister’ received the prestigious ‘Heldinnen in Serie’ award and development funding from FISA Austria. Her short films have screened internationally in cinemas, galleries and festivals. From 2015-2018 she produced and curated the bilateral Austrian American Short Film Festival, which she also co-founded. At Columbia, she served as Annette Insdorf’s teaching assistant and is currently Co-Chair of Columbia Women in Film.
Nicholas Nyhof is a Canadian film producer from Toronto and is currently pursuing an MFA, Film in Creative Producing at Columbia University. He has a passion for storytelling across all genres and often finds himself connecting most-strongly with stories that seek to thrill and entertain their audiences through adventure beyond the ordinary, and characters that explode onto the screen. Prior to film, he spent several years as a Product Manager developing new features for Canada’s fastest growing TV service, and as the Audience Insights Analyst providing programming guidance for Canada’s largest TV Network.