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by Karen Pecota

Live and Learn category of the festival–Documentary on life lessons past, present and future.

Chris Burkard is an accomplished explorer, photographer, creative director, speaker, and author. He travels throughout the year to the utmost ends of our world in order to capture stories that inspire humans to consider their relationship with nature. At the same time his passion promotes the preservation of wild places everywhere.

Burkard collaborates with screenwriters and cinematographers Matt McDonald, Ben Weiland and Jeff Taylor to share about an Icelandic photographer, surfer, and kayaker, Elli Thor Magnusson. Elli shares with them the impact of surviving a near death experience as it now relates to his perspective of life and parenthood.

Elli spent much of his growing up years experiencing the outdoors. He was raised by parents who wanted their children to have a positive connection to nature and the glorious ability to enjoy and respect what it has to offer human life.

When Elli lives close to nature, he feels the most happiest. It can be positive but also a form of escapism with a negative impact. When his daughter Unnúr Erlendsdottir was born he knew that there would be a lot of pressure to live a normal life. But, what is normal? A question he will continually ponder now as an inexperienced parent. He knew that his life would change. Co-parenting with her mother will force him to be open to a different style. He'll need to be sensitive to raising a daughter and the joys and heartache of those dynamics. He might even have to put his own desire and passions aside to make room for her freedoms that might not include the closeness to nature that he experiences. He explains, "As she gets older will she appreciate his life away from the city or will his selfishness driver her away?" Elli explains, "I always prioritize the life close to nature. I hope my search for her to have a childhood freedom will give her the best parts of what I can offer."

Elli's parents did what they loved and took their kids everywhere. They did life together. Elli wants to give Unnúr those same experiences but understands his limitations. He concludes, "Being a parent brings up so much uncertainty that we just try to navigate the best we can." Burkard's majestic visuals of nature coupled with the verbal account of Elli's parental love and devotion to Unnúr will allow your imagination to wonder at the impact of a good parent. 

The natural habitat of our world is truly bountiful and has simply amazing treasures to observe, admire, and experience. Elli hopes that Unnúr will have the freedom to explore it.