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If you’re a nature lover who also happens to love film, you’ll definitely want to check out NatureTrack Film Festival. Here's why.

NatureTrack Film Festival features local nature-focused films

If you’re a nature lover who also happens to love film, you’ll definitely want to check out NatureTrack Film Festival.

The 3-day festival promises to cite, energize, and deepen your connection to the outdoors through the power of film. There will also be opportunities to explore local trails and enjoy the beauty of the Santa Ynez Valley on docent-led hikes. The quaint town of Los Olivos, locatexcite, energize, and deepen your connection to the outdoors through the power of film. 

There will also be opportunities to explore local trails and enjoy the beauty of the Santa Ynez Valley on docent-led hikes. The quaint town of Los Olivos, located at the gateway to the Dick Smith Wilderness, is the perfect location to showcase this unforgettable event in the Santa Ynez Valley.

NatureTrack Film Festival was founded by Sue Eisaguirre, who conceived the idea for a local nature film festival as an extension of, and fundraiser for, the non-profit NatureTrack Foundation that 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. 

What is NatureTrack?

Utilizing local trails and beaches throughout the county, NatureTrack provides experiences that encourage students to embrace the natural world with respect and wonder, inspiring them to be stewards of our natural resources; and prepares them with leadership skills and habits for lifelong learning. 

Since 2011, NatureTrack has provided more than 22,000 outdoor experiences for school-aged students. Demand for the curriculum-coordinated program has increased every year with teachers praising the docent-led excursions that align with classroom curriculum. 

Film Spotlight: By Hand 

Directed by Kellen Keene, the acclaimed documentary, which premiered at the 2020 Santa Barbara International Film Festival, By Hand’s subjects, twin brothers Casey and Ryan Higginbotham and the film’s composer, Todd Hannigan will be attending the 3rd Annual NatureTrack Film Festival Saturday, March 21 at the festival’s “Spotlight” event (St. Mark’s In-the-Valley, Stacy Hall, 2901 Nojoqui Ave, Los Olivos).

By Hand tells the story of Casey and Ryan, Pismo Beach natives, as they embark on a 2,200-mile adventure from Alaska to Mexico on 18- foot paddleboards. The brothers carried nothing more than two dry bags of gear each and a camera. No support boats, no paddles. The journey had never been tried before.

The adventure was the twins’ attempt to escape comfort, reconnect to the natural world and set a new bar for ocean adventure. By Hand is a coming of age story that celebrates the mentorship found in the natural world, a testament to human potential and an unspoken promise to never quit on your brother.

“I approach every project with an attitude that the story comes first,” says Keene. “All it took to spark my interest was hearing the words come out of their mouths, ‘We’re going to paddle self-contained and unassisted from Alaska to Mexico, all by hand.’ This was an unheard-of commitment.”

“Free Solo” director Jimmy Chin commented about the twins’ undertaking. “As far as expeditions go, it’s got to be up there as one of the most difficult trips of any kind.” 

There will be a second screening of By Hand on Sunday, March 22 at the Los Olivos Community Organization Hall (The Grange, 2374 Alamo Pintado Ave, Los Olivos). 

Tickets for the “By Hand” Spotlight evening are available to purchase here, with spotlight events included in the All-Access Pass. 

Be sure to check out NatureTrack on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!

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