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NatureTrack Film Festival kicks off for 10 days of terrific nature docs & animation

Igniting Passion for Nature through Film




Once Local Only Festival Will Now Go Worldwide in Its First Virtual Edition

Plan to Spend Ten Days in Nature October 9 through 18



Water is life and the analogy fits the NatureTrack Film Festival as it’s revving back up and filled with films about water in the third annual edition of the NatureTrack Film Festival (NTFF).  Beginning virtually at midnight Friday, October 9th until Sunday the 18th the NTFF live-action and animation films about water, include people’s relationship to it, the creatures that call it home, its importance to the health of the planet, and dives into the sad state our waters are in now. If you recall, NTFF was abruptly cancelled in March, one week before opening due to COVID. Organizers took proper precautions and are now moving the whole experience into virtual territory. 


“Featuring these films in the third annual NTFF is just one of the many environmental subjects covered by passionate filmmakers making statements about the most precious resource on Earth.” said Sue Eisaguirre, “From two minutes to an hour and two minutes, we’ve culled a really beautiful program of more than 70 films, from the 353 entries we received, for everyone who loves nature.”  Getting the chance to show the program online, takes the festival screenings to an international audience. She hopes that will bring more ticket sales plus more attention to the non-profit she started in 2011 NatureTrack Foundation that takes school children out into the nature.  Docents lead the way and engage the children along the trails in the Santa Ynez Valley.  “I saw the film festival as an economic engine by generating funds in an organic way and promoting the NTFF motto ‘Igniting a passion for nature through film.’”  Scroll down for details on how to get tickets, donate or click through to the program. 


Some of the featured films dealing with H2O include: Queen Without Land comes from Norwegian Filmmaker, Asgeir Helgestad who captures four-years in the life of Frost, a gorgeous polar bear mother, and himself. During this journey on Svalbard, rising temperatures are responsible for dramatic changes in Frost’s eco-system as the ice is melting at record speed. From complete darkness to the absolute light of the midnight sun, Svalbard transforms from a cold and inhospitable place to the most joyous and lively scenery. Alongside these seasonal transformations the disappearing sea ice forces life to new limits. Fjords once full of ice and seals, become abandoned pushing Frost further away. In this feature length film, Helgestad is determined to find her and document all that is being lost -- not an easy task. Arctic animals have adapted to survive the harshest conditions, but they may not survive the changes caused by humans.


Waters of the U.S., director Remi Escudie examines the rivers, streams and wetlands of Alabama to illustrate the rollbacks which are currently threatening the Clean Water Act. By doing so, it shows the economic benefits, ecological health, and cultural way of life that hang in the balance.  Sportsmen, lawyers, a biologist, doctor and organic farmer are among those the director talks with to help us understand the critical significance and importance of the Clean Water Act, something all Americans have taken for granted since it was enacted in 1972.  The current administration wants to cut back on these protections by kicking this balancing act off its base.


Beaver Believers this urgent and slightly whimsical film from Sarah Koenigsberg tells the story of an unlikely team of activists who share a common goal: restoring the North American Beaver. As a keystone species, beaver enrich their ecosystems, creating the biodiversity, complexity, and resiliency our watersheds need to absorb the impacts of climate change. Shot in eight western US states, Mexico, and Canada, through drought, wild fires, spring floods, and the peaceful calm of wetlands.  You’ll be inspired to take a bite out of the challenges we face, one stick at a time.


In 1969, when the Exxon oil platform blew and continued to spew oil into the Santa Barbara Channel waters it sparked the modern environmental movement.  Director Isaac Hernádez’s Better Together explores how the legacy of the oil spill continues to inform and unite this community up to the Thomas Fire in late 2017 followed by the January 9, 2018 deadly debris flow.  There’s a strong message here that we are definitely, “better together.”


Visions of Lost Sierra is director Matt Ritenour’s heartfelt account of the Middle Fork of the Feather River -- one of the first eight rivers designated as Wild & Scenic in 1968. It is now of one of the few remaining wild rivers left in the state and by weaving together personal stories with archival footage Ritenour’s message is delivered to great effect.  Look into the past, present and future of the Middle Fork of the Feather River.


Ocean Stories with Howard & Michele Hall – Making Underwater IMAX Movies goes behind the scenes of working with a 1,300-pound 3D IMAX camera.  The Halls shoot a broad range of sea creatures around the world as they share their passions, visions and hopes for our ocean planet.

The film features an intimate look into their lives, work, and the dedication that drives these exceptional filmmakers as we explore the ocean’s realm directed by Earl Richmond.


Even a film on the fear of water is included; Free to Dive is director Julian Granier’s deeper look into the human relationship with water through three individuals. Then, there’s those daring young twins from Pismo Beach daring the Pacific going By Hand on paddle boards from Alaska to Baja documented by director Kellen Keene. 


Among the animated shorts, Things Were Better Before uses the Trukitrek Puppet Company to address environmental issues, specifically the death of our oceans.  Italian director Lu Pucili conceived the film as a “wake-up machine” to encourage green and sustainable thinking and effect real change before it’s too late. Keep your eyes peeled for familiar looking recyclables doubling as props in this  inventive animated short.  In Six Mile Stretch fine artist Carol Chambers responds to plans for the Centennial Dam being built on the last wild six mile stretch of the Bear River. She deftly puts across the message in a five-minute short. Chambers combines old and new techniques of animation using oils on canvas, painted cells and traditional hand-painted animation layered with today’s computer enhanced techniques.


An art exhibit with The Oak Group will raise more needed funds for the foundation and help NTFF get back onto good footing financially. Eisaguirre announced The Link Between Man and Nature, a two-month-long online art show by the much-heralded Oak Group, to benefit NatureTrack Foundation. “What a gift !” Eisaguirre exclaimed. From November 1 through December 31, 2020 a generous portion of the sale from the artwork of the 25 participating artists will go directly to help NatureTrack connect students to the natural world. For 34 years, the tradition of The Oak Group continues by calling attention to and supporting the preservation of open spaces in the natural world.  The artists’ mission blends really well with NatureTrack which strives to instill young students to be respectful stewards of nature with free outdoor field trips. It’s unusual for The Oak Group to include humans in their works, so this is a very special opportunity to get a one-of-a-kind work of art. Eisaguirre added, “Film festival ‘virtual attendees’ will be able to view the artwork after each film.”


Last but not least, the raffle.  Get in on the great odds for the NTFF Raffle… only 100 Tickets will be sold at $50 each for some highly desirable items to enjoy the great outdoors in and with. Response to the contest has been enthusiastic. You must be a California resident to purchase. Drawing will take place Sunday, October 18. First ticket drawn: Wins the fabulous Montana Canvas Glamping Tent.  Luxury in a 12’ x 14’ tent (value $3,130.)  Second ticket drawn: Wins an All-Access Pass to 2022 NTFF, along with a Zpack Nero 38L Backpack chock full of coveted VIP swag bag treats. Third ticket drawn gets an All-Access Pass for next year, an REI Rusack, camping chair & blanket. Purchase tickets on the NTFF home page and Good Luck! 


Quench your thirst for nature while supporting the NTFF.  The entire slate of films is posted on the festival website.  You can also purchase All-Access Passes, and Program Block tickets online. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the festival go to support the NatureTrack Foundation.  Cost for an All-Access "Virtual" Pass is $100.  Program Blocks are $10 each. Those who purchased an in-person All-Access Pass for the March dates, we suggest either sharing the pass with a friend, or donating the difference in cost to the NatureTrack Foundation as a much-needed gift.  All tickets from the March 2020 dates will be honored.


About NatureTrack Film Festival:


The 2020 NatureTrack Film Festival will be a virtual week-long celebration of nature and outdoor adventure through film. Los Olivos, California in the heart of Santa Barbara wine country, is where the festival was founded in 2018 by Sue Eisaguirre, who conceived the idea as an extension of, and fundraiser for, the non-profit NatureTrack Foundation which she started in 2011. NatureTrack introduces schoolchildren to outdoor spaces from the seashore to the inland oak woodlands of Santa Barbara County by providing cost-free outdoor field trips. Since it began, NatureTrack has provided more than 22,000 outdoor experiences for school-aged students. More information about NatureTrack Foundation can be found at






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