NatureTrack Film Fest Announces the Winning Films for 2020 Virtual Edition
(Los Olivos, CA) Three films walked away with multiple awards from the 2020 edition of the NatureTrack Film Festival, now in its third year. Ties in the Audience Award and Best in Festival awards for Feature & Short films deserved the double appreciation for the incredible stories these filmmakers bring to light. Sharing the accolades for Best Features: The Lost Kings of Bioko and Realm of the Robber; Best Conservation for ‘Bioko’ and Best Scenic for ‘Realm’. Best in Festival Short & Biography: Kokoly and Best Connecting Kids with Nature & The Dan Conaway Award: Traces. Oliver Goetzel explored a tiny island off the African Coast in The Lost Kings of Bioko, to find the Drill monkeys last remaining habitat. He found the conservation efforts for the island important to broadcast out to the world. Kudos to Goetzel as his films have taken awards every year since NatureTrack Film Festival began in 2018. Realm of the Robber, a very big crab, nabbed Best Scenic category for a double win. Shot on Christmas Island where these crabs can live to be 100 years old and reach up to 4 meters (13 feet). Their realm is a surprising island floor to tree top journey by filmmakers Moritz Katz and Braydon Moloney on the enormous crab’s empire on the island. Along the way the much smaller but more prolific red crabs are seen on their annual perilous journey to spawn. Best in Festival Short was bestowed on Kokoly from Garth Cripps, Paul Antion, and Blue Ventures. They also gleaned* Best Biography for detailing Madame Kokoly's struggles in one of Africa’s most remote regions with a shrinking landscape and decreasing numbers of octopuses to hunt. Only female voices are heard in the powerful story of independence and tenacity in southwest Madagascar. The Dan Conaway Award Best in Festival film about Connecting Kids with Nature goes to Sébastian Pins for Traces. He also received Best Short in the same Connecting Kids with Nature category. When told of his win, Pins replied, "A festival that raises awareness about the preservation and respect of the environment, through a quality selection of the greatest variety! It's a huge honor to have my work acknowledged by this renowned nature festival!"
By Hand director Kellen Keene, took the Igniting Passion for (and with) Nature Award, for just letting things happen as the Higgenbotham twins faced nature and themselves. An incredible journey and challenge ensued to film fraternal twin brothers on a life-changing mission to paddle 'by hand' from Alaska to Baja. The result is riveting work. All the above films receive cash prizes. Where there are ties, the prize is split.
Founder of NTFF, Sue Eisaguirre said, "We pulled the rabbit out of the hat! While it was challenging to move the festival to the virtual platform, it proved to be the absolute best decision. We are able to celebrate the success of a maiden voyage. We had more than 4,500 total streams, broadened our reach across the country as well as internationally. Because of this forced experiment to go online, we learned there is a larger and broader audience for nature-based films." She concluded, "I believe virtual will become part of many film festival's programming which would not have included it even a year or two ago. We'll consider doing this in the future. I'm so pleased with the results of this year's festival!"
Documentary features that won Best in their respective categories: Adventure Best was captured by Asegir Helgstad for his heart-wrenching and haunting Queen Without Land – a five-year journey following a beautiful polar bear he names Frost and her two cubs as they face vanishing seas and prey to hunt. Outdoors & Out of Bounds Best goes to the chilling adventure of filmmaker Matthias Mayr's 83°Ski the North. Mayr is another returning award-winner to NatureTrack. Best in Biography went to the grounded message of The Earthing Movie: The Remarkable Science of Grounding by Josh & Rebecca Tickell.
Audience Award ties with two passionate animal films for the people’s choice. They are Sarah Koenigsberg's The Beaver Believers looking at a keystone species in North America, the beaver; and off the coast of Spain, a doc on the most threatened of big cats in the world, the Iberian lynx Saliega's Lineage, The Return of the Iberian Lynx by Javier Ortega Martínez. Both films brought home the attention to species whose survival in the wild is vital to our planet. When Koenigsberg was told of her win, she exclaimed, "Ay! Fantastic!! Thank you so much!! That just means so much, to know we've resonated with an audience directly." This category also gets prize money, which will shared between the winners.
Best Shorts in their respective categories are: In Adventure, Sophie Ballagh and Ewan Blyth win for ICEolation; Guillaume Néry's One Breath Around the World takes the Outdoors & Out of Bounds category; in Conservation Virginia Moore's Ferret Town sounded the alert of an award coming her way; in Animation Carol Chambers' poignantly drawn Six Mile Stretch won; Gabriela Clar's Student entry Yikásdáhí – Awaits the Dawn stood out for the top honor; and finally, shot very close to the home base of NatureTrack Film Festival, Jeff McLoughlin's Carrizo Plain – A Sense of Place was the top choice for the Scenic section. Making the film more scenic McLoughlin included two fine artists Chris Chapman and John Iwerks from The Oak Group (more on them later) and aerial photographer Bill Dewey, and their relationship to this special place. All lay out the case for this National Monument and its importance in the landscape of Central California.
Winning filmmakers receive an original piece of art by local mixed media artist Kathy Badrak. Known primarily for her gourds, these precious little works are called "Serenity Stones." Badrak explained how the stones "…allow me to take into consideration the shape, size, vibration, and color and to weave the patterns that capture the rock's stillness, quality and beauty." Eisaguirre added, "Dealing with all the stressful events this year, serenity is a welcome relief."
In 2021, NatureTrack Film Festival will be presenting a "Best Of" the last three years of films which have been part of the winners' circle and will be on tour throughout the year. Please follow us on the social platforms to see our posts and progress. You can find out about the films, dates, and special events planned and how you can help or get involved. Proceeds from the film festival are raised to fund NatureTrack Foundation which 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. NatureTrack is an expert when it comes to being a leader of a hike, be it through film or the natural world so do join us.
Coming up November 1 through December 31 is The Oak Group show, "The Link Between Man and Nature," for which the NatureTrack Foundation is the beneficiary of a generous portion of the sale of the art. This is their first online show, and hopes are the expanded audience response will result in greater awareness of both non-profits. For 34 years, The Oak Group has been by calling attention to and supporting the preservation of open spaces in the natural world. The artists' mission blends well with NatureTrack, which strives to instill young students to be respectful stewards of nature with free outdoor field trips. Please do visit our website or The Oak Group's (www.oakgroup.org) to purchase a bit of nature for your home or office.
Thanks to all the volunteers, sponsors, filmmakers, and supporters for helping NTFF present this 2020 edition to all of our patrons, new and longtime. Thank you!
About the NatureTrack Film Festival:
The 2020 NatureTrack Film Festival was 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 25,000 outdoor experiences for school-aged students. More information about NatureTrack Foundation can be found at www.naturetrack.org.
*Gleaning means hunting octopuses, couldn't resist using glean in Kokoly's case. She is an excellent octopus gleaner and remarks on how the number of octopuses is declining.
…..and, it's a wrap! Until March 2021…. Stay tuned.
Press Breaks for Nature Track Film Festival (NTFF)
Re-Visioned Film Festival Goes Virtual Oct 9 – 18
- SBNP (article appeared 9.13.20) https://newspress.com/nature-in-all-its-glory/
- 805 LIVING – calendar for October issue (Pg. 52 “Insider”) https://online.publicationprinters.com/html5/reader/production/default.aspx?pubname=&edid=e00a3d03-f89c-4ea9-9426-b87cbc2f2f2c
- THE SUN - e-mail interview with Sue, Holly & KC (appeared 9.17.20)
- THE SUN – 4-page ad for NTFF / Hutton Fndn Grant (10/1) http://www.santamariasun.com/downloads/SUN_10.01.20_001-036.pdf
- KZSB AM Friday Oct 2 Sue, Holly, Oliver Goetzl and John Mastriano https://elizabethappraisals.com/naturetrack-film-festival/
- Inside SYV Facebook
- Noozhawk.com 9/24/20 https://www.noozhawk.com/article/naturetrack_film_festival_focuses_on_water_as_life
- Second FilmFestivals.com post of #2 release https://www.filmfestivals.com/blog/mediapro21/third_annual_naturetrack_film_festival_new_virtual_option_for_rescheduled_2020_fest_0
- SYV Star (#2 release)
- Inside Santa Ynez Valley Article & ads Ads PP 14, 72 & 77 Article on Pg. 65
- Valley Scene Magazine (Sept. 25 – Oct. 8) article & ads (Multiple e-blasts on Mail Chimps or Constant Contact the magazine uses)
- Montecito Journal – 10/8 – 15. 2020 Steve Libowitz interviews Michele & Howard Hall/IMAX https://www.montecitojournal.net/mjnewspaper/
- Independent Sean Cummings, Interviews/article 8 issue & online https://www.independent.com/2020/10/06/naturetrack-film-festival-goes-virtual/
- Voice/Casa 10.9 issue 2 stories 1 Full Page AD https://issuu.com/casamagazine/docs/10.9.2020.voice_36_pg?fr=sMGQyYjEwNjgw
- EDHAT https://www.edhat.com/event/naturetrack-film-fest-going-all-virtual-0
- Multiple Facebook posts local and nature related pages in the months of Sept/Oct. (approx. 30+)
- Second release on Edhat to promote second week & contest https://www.edhat.com/event/naturetrack-film-festival-runs-through-this-sunday
- The Current UCSB online magazine for alumni, staff, community https://www.news.ucsb.edu/2020/020054/track-star
- Art & Antiques Radio Show 10/14 Second Installment for NTFF
Carrizo Plain principals, and John Dutton Leatherbacks
- Edhat Reviews “The Beaver Believers” 10/16/20 https://www.edhat.com/news/film-review-the-beaver-believers
- OAK GROUP SHOW
- KZSB AM AARS 12/18/20 Rob Robinson, Arturo Tello and Sue Eisaguirre