‘The Accessible Outdoors’ honored with a Silver for Best Short Documentary

Staff Report


“The Accessible Outdoors,” the new short live-action documentary presented by Golden Cage Films and NatureTrack Foundation garnered its first award at the Hollywood Independent Filmmaker Awards and Festival, winning the Silver for Best Short Documentary.

This empowering documentary about making nature accessible to everyone is gaining momentum as more film festivals are accepting it into their selections. So far, the Oregon Documentary Film Festival, Colorado Environmental Film Festival, Flathead Lake International Cinemafest and British Colombia Environmental Film Festival will be screening the doc in their upcoming festivals.

“The Accessible Outdoors” made its world premiere at the NatureTrack Film Festival in Los Olivos in October. The film shows how a manual wheelchair user can transform their chair into an all-terrain vehicle using Freedom Trax, while investigating the importance of connection and access to nature for all people.

“As we were shooting the film about incorporating these devices into NatureTrack’s outdoor field trips, I realized there was more to tell about the lack of access to nature and the outdoors for disabled people,” said Sue Eisaguirre, founder of NatureTrack. “I wanted the film to convey the importance of connection and access to nature for all people. Mitchka and Francisco did just that. I enjoyed working with them.” 

Mitchka Saberi and Francisco Lopez of Golden Cage Films noted, “Before making ‘The Accessible Outdoors,’ we hadn’t considered how extensive the topic of disability access is. As two able-bodied people, it wasn’t until talking to people with a variety of disabilities we came to realize access to nature isn’t an issue to be ignored until it impacts you or someone close to you. 

“We all deserve the ability to experience nature and connect with it, and that ability could easily be taken away from us at any moment. We shouldn’t wait until that moment comes to advocate for change in this sector.”

The filmmakers noted how the disabled audience members at the initial film festival screening who were present saw a problem they’ve surely experienced firsthand reflected on screen and were excited by one possible solution in the Freedom Trax devices.

“We’re thrilled to continue sharing the film with audience members of all abilities, hoping everyone can take something away from the topics we address in the film,” Saberi and Lopez said.

Eisaguirre explained why she was looking for something like the Freedom Trax apparatus.

“This removes barriers to accessing beaches and trails,” she said. “We are using the piece of equipment for our docents, as well as teachers, and students with physical disabilities so they can participate in the outdoor field trip program.” 

With these devices NatureTrack is expanding its program beyond school trips. Wheelchair users and others with physical disabilities can take the opportunity to get out on the beaches and trails throughout the county, under their own power, all at no charge courtesy of NatureTrack. Those interested can find out more by calling 805-886-2047 or email Sue@NatureTrack.org.

NatureTrack is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that provides outdoor field trips during the traditional school day for Santa Barbara County school-aged children at no cost to the schools or students, utilizing local trails and beaches throughout North and South County. NatureTrack’s mission is two-fold:  to encourage students to embrace our natural world with respect and wonder, inspiring them to be stewards of our natural resources, and prepare school-aged students with the attitudes, leadership skills and habits for lifelong learning. Founded in 2011, the organization has given more than 25,000 students a chance to experience a NatureTrack docent-led outdoor field trip.