The fifth Annual NatureTrack Film Festival, Oct. 6-8 at Metropolitan’s Fairview Theatre in Goleta, will have a dozen features, complemented by 30 shorts along with two panels, a grand opening night at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara, VIP pass holder and filmmaker mixer on Saturday, and an awards ceremony with a closing party on Sunday, both at The Leta.

Co-directors Francisco Lopez and Mitchka Saberi have chosen a diverse selection of films.

Close-up shot of black-feathered, coral-faced California condor.
California’s iconic condors play a role in NatureTrack Film Festival offerings. Credit: Courtesy photo

“ I would love to shout out the variety of types of films we are including in the lineup this year,” Saberi said. “Not all are traditional nature docs; this year’s audiences will see how we’ve tried to broaden the definition of a nature film. We believe they will inspire people to spend more time outdoors and love the earth.”

Follow Instagram @naturetrackfilm for the updates.

Los Olivos will get its own Best of the Fest, 3-9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14 at The Grange with a wrap party after the final screening. Tickets to The Grange are included in the VIP Full Festival Pass or $12 per screening.

An in-person field trip is planned for Sunday morning, Oct. 8, to Lake Los Carneros for an up-close look at the birds there.

Festival-goers can experience what NatureTrack, the founding organization, has been doing since 2011 for more than 35,000 kids K-12 in Santa Barbara County to generate interest in becoming stewards of nature for future generations.

“As we mark our fifth anniversary, we reflect on how this festival has become an enchanting extension of NatureTrack’s enduring mission — to nurture and kindle an unwavering fascination with the natural world, fostering a lifelong love affair with the beauty that surrounds us,” said founder Sue Eisaguirre

“Many of the trails we use indeed do Ignite a Passion for Nature (our motto), which are on lands protected by our presenting sponsor The Land Trust of Santa Barbara County,” she said. “The Land Trust has been a consistent supporter of NatureTrack since I started this in 2011.

“We both share the vision of creating a new generation of stewards for nature in the future. A better partner in this mission could not be found.”

From the opening night film “Wild Waters,” the blending of the two prevailing themes in this year’s lineup water and experiential are front and center.

More than 70% of the Earth’s surface is water. Fourteen of the films — 10 shorts and four features – in the line-up look at the current state of oceans, rivers, creeks and inland lakes from the viewpoint of the experienced as well as student filmmakers.

The festival is designed to inspire passion for nature through film by expanding the definition of nature film through a range of genres and subjects. Audiences are invited to walk, navigate, fly over, swim and paddle these wild, vital waters and myriad other topics.

Among the films are:

“Hudson River Wild.” Discover the annual changes, the Hudson River goes through. Award-winning filmmaker John Dutton gives us a thorough look at it.

“It was really cool getting a glimpse of all the different ecosystems along the Hudson River and the life based on its banks from the source all the way to the Statue of Liberty,” Saberi said. “It’s a beautiful Attenborough-esque doc, produced with the Smithsonian Channel by filmmaker John Dutton whose films have consistently graced the festival line-up.”

“Paved Paradise” is a rare comedy nature documentary.

“Super unique approach to the topic of agriculture and the environment. You don’t see many comedy docs, and this one really pushes the envelope of how to present this type of material,” Lopez said.

“The Way of the Cheetah” comes from the multiple award-winning team of Dereck and Beverly Joubert about these most fragile cats, both physically and in numbers, now at less than 7,000 left in the world.

Viewers are introduced to a coalition of five male cheetahs and a female, Immani, who captures our hearts with her four cubs. In Maasai, her name means ‘faith.’ She leads her cubs across the East African plains, where she must avoid lions, hyenas, jackals, baboons, and even vultures. Through the lens of the Jouberts over a few years, we see her gain faith in herself.

“Out There: A National Parks Story” is a large story made on an intimate level the film follows two longtime friends in a car, on a mission to get to as many national parks as they can.

At first driving very fast and just touching down here and there, realizing even though people say it’s not the destination, it’s the journey, these young men turn things around to slow down and explore the destinations.

Thirty shorts are curated into the program with seven of those coming from student filmmakers. Some are from UCSB’s GreenScreen taught by Chris Jenkins, and the UCSB Coastal Media Project, a nine-week summer class Jenkins teaches along with Ian Kellett and Summer Gray.

The assortment of P.O.Vs and subjects such as conservation and environmental topics, are woven in with long-distance running, and climbing. Some of Santa Barbara’s favorite things are in here too, from condors and forests, to surfing and kayaking.

Locations range from the northernmost tip of Alaska to the Channel Islands down to Brazil. Plus, this is where animation lives in the NTFF program. “Ice Merchants” won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 2022.

Find further descriptions on all the films at
NTFF online box office is open for opening night, full festival passes and single tickets, and four-packs are available at NatureTrack.