NatureTrack Film Festival's Pop-Up Program Announced
POP-UP PROGRAM – NatureTrack Film Festival
Diverse Menu of Subjects in 30 New Films
LIVE on Saturday October 16 from 9am to 11pm
Enjoy Day in the Country Activities with a Dose of Fabulous Nature Films
(Los Olivos, CA) Thirty new films will get the opening splash at the Fourth Annual NatureTrack Film Festival (NTFF) on Saturday, October 16. Coinciding with Day in the Country in Los Olivos, this will be a Pop-Up film festival with films screened at St. Mark’s In-The-Valley from 9 am to 11 pm. This all-nature related film fest with documentaries and animation has something for everyone. NTFF Passes and tickets are on sale now.
NatureTrack will also support Day in the Country festivities by sponsoring the morning 5K and Kid's Fun Run that starts at 8am and 9am respectively, and after that the whole day continues with its family friendly fare. Each film block is just the right amount of time to take a break from the excitement of vendors, wine tastings, a scarecrow contest and the old-time parade that Day in the Country is known for. Make tracks to Stacy Hall, 2901 Nojoqui (No-ho-ee) Avenue, Los Olivos for all the film blocks, and find tickets here: https://2021ntff.eventive.org/schedule Need more info? Call (805) 886-2047 or e-mail us at: info@NatureTrackFilmFestival.org
Here’s what’s in store for NTFF audiences. Opening the day of films from 9am to 10:30 are two very powerful conservation films, starting with Animals at the Border. Facing barbed wire and towering fences, what’s going to happen to animals that have long migrations? It’s not just human refugees who are being prevented from crossing borders, animals are too. This film from director Cornelia Volk of Germany looks at the impact the borders are having on a global scale. Borders between Croatia/Slovenia; Bulgaria/Turkey; the US and Mexico all get a hard look.
The second feature, about invaluable salmon, is from the Russian Federation and is titled Sockeye Salmon. Red Fish. Directors Dmitriy Shpilenok and Vladislav Grishin open the film with a dramatic drone shot of the salmon moving in a murmuration pattern only seen with Starling birds. It’s mystifying, and the cinematography on this film is a wow. How these magnificent fish impact our food chain, the life cycle from fresh water, to the ocean and back to fresh, poachers of salmon roe, and the fish economy they create are the focus. The closing shot has a quote that resonates with NatureTrack’s mission – “Kindness and goodness are planted in each human.”
Two Family Friendly film blocks screen from 11 – 12:30, with Snack Packs included! Five short films are bound to amuse and inform the little ones from 11 – 11:30am. Three are animated. From the UK’s Eliezer Girma, The Beauty of Nature takes a swing at the tropes of nature and tosses them on their collective head, with an Ice Age style of animation and a sense of humor as well. Wild is a delightful little film from three French film students about a gecko caught in a scenario reminiscent of The Ugly Duckling. The Potion, a film from Mexico by Gabriela Martínez Garza, shows a group of animals from the Catazajá lagoon that is facing the threat of pollution. Together they use intelligence and solidarity to protect their environment. The film was made with the help of 26 children from the town of Loma Bonita, Catazajá, Chiapas. The live action adventure film, Trench, from director Paulo Silver, takes you to a landfill somewhere in Brazil where a little boy’s imagination builds a fantasy world. The half hour wraps with a focus on… Ants! Shot on an iPhone, The Ants took nearly six months to complete. No CG work involved. Director Nandu Nandan shows the little things that happen all around us but go unnoticed. That is, until his film!
The second Family Friendly block starts at 12 noon and runs a half hour. Hidden Wild is an amazing adventure film with three teenagers tackling 70 miles in seven days along Florida’s Loxahatchee River, all on public lands, and proves that “water ties everything together in Florida.” The film takes the viewer on the trails native people would have used 12,000 years ago, from the Everglades to the mouth of the Loxahatchee. Three young lives are forever changed by this experience and maybe yours will be to. Directors Neil Losen and Nathan Dappen follow the kids and their trail leader inconspicuously to make the most of the journey. Animated films The Tree Has Been Planted and The Long Kiss bookend the live action Hidden Wild to make for a fun 35-minute interlude at Day in the Country.
One o’clock is your one and only chance to see the BBC documentary Antarctica from director Fredi Devas and narrated by the much-loved Benedict Cumberbatch. Using the latest underwater filming techniques, the movie dives beneath sea ice more than six feet thick to experience the alien world of the seafloor. Swim alongside seals, soar above mountain peaks, see vast penguin colonies, and witness the largest congregation of Fin and Humpback whales ever filmed. Antarctica features notable theme music from the award-winning composer Hans Zimmer and Jacob Shea. Devas stated, “In the 20 years I’ve been working as both a field biologist and filmmaker, this is the first time I’ve returned to a place and seen noticeable, positive changes.” No one owns Antarctica but it will take global cooperation and collaboration to protect it and ensure the future health of Earth. (Antarctica will not be in the Virtual Program.) Also, in Block Four is Light of the Night, which might be of particular interest to residents of the Santa Ynez Valley, long touted as having some of the darkest skies in Santa Barbara county. Here the Slovakian director Matej Pok looks at the global problem of light pollution, which exponentially expands every year and affects animals, plants, the work of astronomers, and - most of all – the health of every one of us. Next, take a journey to Patagonia in Korovadu from director Rafael Pease. Narrator Füta Mawida tells the story of our fragile relationship with nature. A resounding truth echoes across Patagonia’s unpredictable terrain -- we are visitors to this land, with much to learn. This block finishes up at 2:30pm.
Mid-afternoon from 3 – 4:30pm enjoy a couple of outstanding conservation films, along with NatureTrack’s very own documentary about accessibility to the natural world for wheelchair users and others with physical disabilities. With advances in technology, it is now possible for wheelchair users to access trails and beaches more easily. Everyone should be able to enjoy nature and now they can. Cabrera opens with the luscious scenery of the Cabrera Archipelago off the coast of Spain, which looks a lot like our Channel Islands. A paradise today, it served as Spain’s military training grounds in the past. See how the fauna that refused to abandon its home lives now through the eyes of director and cameraman Toni Escandell. This doc reveals discoveries unknown to science that are already the subject of deeper research by botanists and other scientists. Another kind of immigrant is the subject of the film A Flyfishing Refugee, from Portland-based Director Brian Kelly. The film tells the story of early 1980s Polish dissident Mariusz Wroblewski, who was pressured out of his homeland, and only knows that wild rivers call to him. Saying, “Rivers are more meaningful than countries,” the former dissident is now the Western Pacific Director of the Wild Salmon Center based in Portland. Director Kelly has a knack for finding passionate people as he strives to reveal stories that blend conservation, adventure and deeply moving human narratives. Another Oregonian, legendary ultramarathon runner, mountain adventurer, and one of the most versatile distance runners of all-time, filmmaker Max King takes us on an epic adventure in Sebastian and Max’s Grand Canyon Adventure. As King says, “Never underestimate a kid’s ability to take an idea and make it a reality.” That kid is Sebastian Salsbury a 15-year-old youth trail runner.
Film Block Six has 90 minutes of some of the most magnificent footage covering the most diverse subjects from 5 – 6:30pm. Returning award-winning filmmaker John Dutton shares a most beautiful discovery he filmed just off the coast of Monterey - an octopus garden! No one knew it was there. You might think of Ringo Starr singing the famous Beatles’ song, but this is a real nursery for octopuses found thousands of feet deep and only reached via a submersible. Discover Wonder, The Octopus Garden is a magical film and has already won Best Short in the International Ocean Film Festival. Dutton’s background in biology and geology, plus a fascination for science and conservation, has made him a favorite for science and wildlife films with NOAA, the Smithsonian, National Marine Fisheries Service, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and NGO’s like The Nature Conservancy, WWF and Ocean Ecology Network to name a few. The riveting Island of the Hippos from one of NTFF’s favorite filmmakers, Carlos Pérez Romero, has so much more than hippos in it. Off the West African Coast in the Bissagos Islands, Romero carefully moves around the island, finding mud structures made by termites that look like science fiction castles, and a tree where Village Weaver birds’ nest and get bullied by Egrets and other birds. The island is the second most populous place for migrating birds. Watch the squirrel vs the cat snake, and see a mosquito born. The film has won three awards already. Last year he produced Saliega’s Lineage, The Return of the Iberian Lynx about the endangered, secretive and beautiful wild cat which won Audience Favorite at NTFF. (It will be in the Virtual Program). Opi is a short film about the filmmaker’s grandfather Klaus-Dieter Walke, and the millions of trees he planted in Germany. Director Sophie Stolle discovered the true meaning of his legacy while making the film – a reminder we are all beneficiaries of our ancestor’s choices and one day, we will be ancestors too. Mylo from Sony Artisan and filmmaker Chris Burkard is about native American photographer Mylo Fowler. He left to travel the world only to come back to the Navajo Nation, where he was raised, to tell its story. This is the place where his work means more, makes a difference, and benefits the land and his people. Director Burkard is based here on the Central Coast. Flying with Spider Monkeys points the finger at habitat encroachment and trafficking for the pet trade which threatens the spider monkey population in Southern Mexico. Directors Luis Palomino Benítez and Molly Ferrill follow conservation scientist Denise Spaan and her team who, using drones with thermal cameras, are exploring new ways to detect and count the monkeys.
Highline righteously owns Block Seven from 7:00-9:00pm, USA directors Chris Smead and Gordon Gurley take five friends on a ten-day journey hiking and trekking across Utah’s Uinta Highline Trail. As the film progresses you’ll begin to learn more about the individuals and why they chose to hike for days, weeks, even months at a time. Stories of PTSD and addiction recovery, health and family issues are heavy topics in the film. This will leave you holding your breath while simultaneously letting out a big sigh of relief. Juxtaposition at its best in nature.
Finishing up the day, Block Eight opens with an eye-popping personal tour in RIO by Unique Sights. Award-winning nature and adventure photographer Rafael Duarte trails five characters with special connections to the city’s natural and diverse landscapes. His camera searches for the elements which make their connection to the city’s environment unique and shows how nature impacts their lives and the way they see the world. Brian Kelley’s second short film in the NTFF Pop-Up is titled An Alaskan Fight and it focuses on the fight to keep the Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay from coming online. Bristol Bay is one of the last great functioning salmon ecosystems. The fight continues and there’s hope this film will incite viewers to learn and do more to keep the Bay for the salmon and not for man’s greed. Three shorts from director Keith Malloy, are worth the wait to this closing block. The Last Punk Rock Thing Left, starring Mark Healey, is an elegantly composed, two-part video series focusing primarily on the Hawaiian waterman's latest adrenalized passion: bowhunting. “In nature, if you aren’t diligent you will be punished. Mark Healey's desire is to live as closely connected to his environment as possible. He’s spent decades in unforgiving environments where reading the conditions brings success or failure. He dives to be self-sufficient and to share the harvest with his family and friends. To him, it’s The Last Punk Rock Thing Left. Malloy’s Heavy Water Guardians, focuses on what’s commonly referred to as the “Seven Mile Miracle,” the North Shore of Oahu. One of the most famous breaks in the world, the Banzai Pipeline is catnip to world-class surfers. This film focuses on the Hawai’i lifeguards who watch over the North Shore. The Pipeline arena is like a gladiator pit, the rip currents are unbelievably strong, sets can be long and stacked with waves breaking in two feet of water on a sharp, jagged reef. Gnarly dude! Travel from Hawai’i to Australia for Our Connection with the Blue Mountains featuring Brendan Davies and David King, both locals, the film investigates their deep connection with the mountains. Davies is a professional trail runner and King, a Gundungurra man, has indigenous ancestors who have lived in the mountains for thousands of years. What a contrast in experiences. Finally, the 2021 Pop-Up NTFF finishes with a punch from an amusing short from Turkey called bi’ zahmet by director Engin Ökmen, about three friends who must pay for the environmental pollution...like other marine animals.
About NatureTrack Film Festival
NatureTrack Film Festival is a celebration of nature and outdoor adventure through film. Held in Los Olivos, California, in the heart of Santa Barbara wine country, the festival showcases dozens of national and international filmmakers' works. The festival was founded by Sue Eisaguirre, who conceived the idea as an extension of and fundraiser for the non-profit NatureTrack Foundation she started in 2011. NatureTrack introduces schoolchildren to the outdoors from the seashore to the oak woodlands of Santa Barbara County by providing cost-free outdoor field trips. Since it began, NatureTrack has provided more than 25,000 outdoor experiences for school-aged students. More information about NatureTrack Foundation can be found at www.naturetrack.org.