The third annual NatureTrack Film Festival (NTFF), usually taking place in Los Olivos, Calfornia, is going virtual due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Dozens of documentaries and short films from 21 countries will be available online for a global audience Oct. 9-18. Individual tickets for single program blocks are sold for $10, the all-access pass is available for $100. The tickets are on sale now at https://naturetrackfilmfestival.org/.

Some of the highlights of the festival will be:

  • By Hand, a movie already called “this year’s Free Solo.” Two Pismo Beach brothers paddle by hand from Alaska to Baja, unaided by anyone else, just the Higginbotham twins in a coming of age story with nature as their mentor. No motors to propel them, no support boats, their custom-made boards carried everything, and they paddled more than 2,000 miles with only director Kellen Keene’s camera keeping them company. By Hand has already won several festival awards this year.
  • The Lost Kings of Bioko by Oliver Goetzel, whose films have taken awards at the first two NTFF events, returns with another endangered species, one of the world’s least-known primate species, the Drill Monkey. Off the coast of Central Africa lies Bioko, an isolated island covered by ancient rainforests and surrounded by dark ocean waters. Island folklore tells of a Drill king who ruled the island’s forests, a place where Drills still play a critical role in the health of an ecosystem known to scientists as a biodiversity hotspot. The film takes on subjects most of the world is unaware of in Goetzl’s quest to create a brighter future for the Drills through science and, most importantly, species protection. Oliver also created “Making of Lost Kings of Bioko,” a special behind-the-scenes bonus short just for the NTFF.
  • Another past NTFF award-winner, Matthias Mayr, goes to the Arctic’s northernmost mountain range in the world for his 83° Ski the North. Joined by adventurer Hauni Haunholder the two set off to ski the Arctic Cordillera and as the saying goes, “it’s the journey not the destination” as the men encounter major athletic and filmmaking challenges. The Ellesmere Island location is home to arctic wolves, polar bears and native Inuit people who actively support the intrepid mountaineers.
  • Bringing the personal story of Madame Kokoly to the NTFF, U.K. filmmakers Garth Cripps and Paul Antion capture a wide-angle look at the world’s marine environment through the close-up story of a traditional Vezo fisherwoman in Madagascar. Living in extreme poverty, Madame Kokoly reflects on her personal losses and life experiences, and the ocean she fishes, which is changing beyond her control. Female only voices are represented in this heartbreaking film. Kokoly is a short documentary film, produced by Blue Ventures, and supported by Stories of Change, a project of the Sundance Institute, with support from the Skoll Foundation.
  • Getting down and dirty, Threats in the Northern Seas director Jacques Loeuille from France brings light to silent and deadly underwater witnesses from WWI and WWII – three billion tons, yes tons, of chemical and conventional bombs that lie at the bottom of the North and Baltic seas. Loeuille’s film examines the underwater stockpile of lethal munitions and takes on the cause of defending the survival of our vital oceans and seas. Why were these weapons dumped and are these massive watery caches of highly toxic ordinance creating a potential avoidable disaster? Sue Eisaguirre says she has discovered that NTFF patrons are “proactive people for our natural world, and this film will educate you about the dangers and natural disasters caused by climate change.”