Get to know attending filmmaker Lydia B. Smith

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The NatureTrack Film Festival is excited to welcome Lydia B. Smith to the 2020 Festival in Los Olivos, March 20-22. Many people have never heard of this extraordinary pilgrimage but, many people have, and it’s excited a longing to travel the Camino de Santiago some day.

This year, we are excited to introduce Director Lydia B. Smith’s film “Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago” and have her on-hand to answer questions about the making of her film.

Bunk-beds. Blisters. Stunning landscapes. World-class snorers. Hot searing sun, freezing cold rain. Kindness from strangers. Debilitating injury. Unexpected romance. No toilet paper when you really need it. Profound grief and deep doubt. Hunger. Laughing with new friends. Total exhaustion. One is guaranteed to experience all of these emotions and moments, amongst others, while walking Spain’s ancient pilgrimage path, the Camino de Santiago.

Since the 9th century, millions of people, from spiritual seeking or devoutly religious pilgrims to adventure-driven travelers, have embarked on an epic pilgrimage across northern Spain that is known to be profoundly enlightening, spiritually nourishing, and physically challenging. Today, several hundred thousand people a year walk on this mostly unpaved path with little more than a backpack and a pair of boots.

Across Spain, this sacred path stretches westward to the city of Santiago de Compostela where the bones of the apostle St. James are said to be buried. The Camino is world-renowned; UNESCO named it a World Heritage Site and the Council of Europe declared it the first European Cultural Itinerary. Millions of people from all over the world have traveled this trail for over 1,000 years – in 2010 alone, over 270,000 people attempted the arduous trek – each one a seeker of something.

Walking the Camino is a total immersion experience that captures the trials and tribulations associated with a group of modern pilgrims who decide to walk the Camino de Santiago. The cast of people featured in the film run the gamut of ages (from age 3 to 73), as well as nationalities, religious backgrounds and motivations for coming to the Camino.

Through the stories of these six pilgrims and the priests, hospitaleros, and others featured along the way, Walking the Camino presents universal themes that highlight the communal and individual components of the Camino de Santiago. Solitude and community are inseparably intertwined as pilgrims seek to redefine the way they live their lives, deepen their relationships with themselves, and rediscover their connection with the world in which they live and in doing so, pilgrims become more self-aware. Out of that self-awareness inevitably emerges open-mindedness and selflessness as pilgrims, both in Walking the Camino and the thousands of others who have walked the journey, help each other through their trials and struggles to reach the finish line.

The star of the film, the Camino itself, is showcased with elegant cinematography that captures and depicts the gorgeous scenery and breathtaking vistas, from the raindrops on leaves to the fields of grass, mist covered mountains, colorful sunsets and truly inviting local people and historic surroundings. The documentary truly captures the personalities and inner challenges of the pilgrims and their transformations along the journey. The audience experiences the drive, questions, pains, joys, and revelations that these modern day pilgrims encounter along the way. Walking the Camino is guaranteed at the very least to inspire the audience to examine their own life’s journeys, if not pick up a backpack, strap on a pair of boots and set out for Santiago themselves.

Director Bio:

It’s hard to imagine another filmmaker better suited to capturing the Camino’s unique experience than Lydia, who makes her feature film directorial debut with Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago.

She lived in Barcelona for over six years and speaks flawless Spanish, in addition to Italian and Catalan. Her deep understanding of the Camino comes from Lydia’s avid passion for the outdoors, hiking, and nature along with her deep spiritual practice; she is a licensed spiritual practitioner from the Agape International Spiritual Center and from the United Centers for Spiritual Living. During the spring of 2008, Lydia walked the entire 500 miles of the Camino de Santiago, and has a deep understanding of the power of pilgrimage and of the captivating stories along the way that are waiting to be told.

Lydia B. Smith has a long history of collaboration with the producers on this project and began her work in documentaries 30 years ago. She directed, produced, and wrote: They’re Just Kids, a 26-minute educational documentary showing how children with disabilities can have a positive affect on our lives, A Legacy Revealed, a 40-minute historical documentary, Infiniti: Behind the Scenes, and a 20-minute biography, Bill Lansing: A Tribute

Additionally, she was Senior Producer on CNN’s Soldiers of Peace: A Children’s Crusade, Co-Producer and 2nd unit DP on the CNN Documentary, The Mystery of the Arctic Rose, 2nd unit DP on the PBS show, Stand Up, American Producer for Chilean TV’s, The Route to the Beringia, DP for Anthony Hopkins Teaches and more.

In addition to her producing and directing career, Lydia has worked as a camera assistant and operator on commercials, top music videos, and on major motion pictures including Ed Wood with Johnny Depp, Dan- gerous Minds with Michelle Pfeiffer, and Matilda with Danny DeVito, to name just a few.

Get to know attending filmmaker Preston Maag

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The NatureTrack Film Festival is excited to welcome UCSB alumni Preston Maag to the 2020 Festival in Los Olivos, March 20-22. From the very beginning, NTFF has worked to develop a special relationship with UCSB’s budding filmmakers and has been proud to showcase their student work the last 2 years.

Preston Maag

This year, we are excited to introduce Director Preston Magg to our audience. His film, “10 Miles Out” was shot in our local backcountry and “follows backpackers of various skill and experience levels – from beginners to die-hard backpacking aficionados – as they navigate through the Los Padres National Forest, which spans from Ventura to Monterey Counties.” We are sure many in our audience will recognize some of the trails and maybe some of the people featured! Preston will be available after his screening to offer insights and answer any questions about his film.

Like NatureTrack, Preston believes that nature can be the perfect escape from the “chaotic cacophony of our technologically-driven society by simply spending some time enveloped in nature.”

Says Preston, “Growing up, one of my favorite hobbies was going camping. Many weekends were spent huddled around a campfire sharing stories and eating good food with family and friends. As I got older, these weekends began getting replaced as schedules filled with separate interests. It was not until earlier this year when I discovered the world of backpacking. My friend took me on a brief overnight trip into the Los Padres National Forest, and I was immediately hooked. Coming from a camping background wherein my supplies came from the bed of my car, Backpacking kept all the gear on my back. As an avid hiker, this gave me the option of hiking to beautiful places and rather than hiking back, being able to setup camp where nobody else was. After my first trip, I felt inclined to share my experience with people in the form of a film. “10 Miles Out” is an experiential documentary meant to provide general knowledge on backpacking as well as inspire people to get outside and enjoy what is available to them on a daily basis.”

Preston’s film career began in 2017 with the premiere of “La Luz” in Santa Ana, California. After transferring to UC Santa Barbara that same year, Preston quickly became a dynamic student of the film program. In a brief two years, he was part of over 30 student productions including a few credits as a Director and Director of Photography. His current film “10 Miles Out” was a 2019 GreenScreen Premier at the Carsey Wolf Center at UCSB. He works to capture stories that motivate people to consider their relationship with nature and technology. He plans to continue pursuing his dream in nature filmmaking.

We are adding more films to the festival!

In addition to the films that are selected from the hundreds submitted through FilmFreeway, the NTFF team also curates additional films that we feel would be of special interest to our guests.

So far, we are very pleased to announce that we have curated in the following excellent films!

Directed by Chris Smead

A feature length film about the Uinta Highline Trail

2018 NTFF “Rae Lakes” Film Documentary
2019 NTFF “The High Sierra Trail”
For most of human history, we lived in wild places.
Ten days. Five friends. One trek across Utah’s Uinta Highline Trail.
Watch as the ancient history of the trail is woven together with the personal history of each of the hikers as they get back in touch with the world, and each other. Rainier_in_pastel_light_-2

My Friends Were Mountaineers
Directed by Eric Beckeer

A short length film about Dee Molenaar

Dee Molenaar is an American mountaineer, artist, and cartographer who spent his life among the mountains. While celebrating his 100th birthday, the film explores his years working as a mountain guide and park ranger in Mount Rainer National Park, and the worldwide expeditions that he participated in, including the first ascent of Mount Kennedy along with Jim Whittaker and Robert Kennedy.

Warren Miller’s Timeless,
presented by Volkswagen

A feature length film about the Uinta Highline Trail

2018 NTFF “Line of Descent” & Warren Miller Tribute video
2019 NTFF Volkswagen presents Warren Miller’s “Face of Winter”

The only constant is change, but the spirit of winter is eternal. Featuring ski legends like Glen Plake, alongside newcomers Caite Zeliff, Jaelin Kauf, and Baker Boyd. Road-trip with rippers from Arlberg to the Matterhorn, be immersed in the hometown hill of Eldora and discover a different side of Jackson Hole, plus much more, as we celebrate 70 years of ski cinematography and travel with top athletes across the globe to renowned mountain locations.

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