"Better Together" at LA Femme International Film Festival

LA Femme International Film Festival banner logo

October 18 at 2 pm

Regal Theater, LA Live (1000 W. Olympic Blvd, LA, CA 90001)

Fifty years ago an oil spill united a community and changed the world

Christopher Lloyd narrates Better Together, a feature documentary about how a small beach community learned to keep coming together through oil spills, fires, mudslides and the future challenges of a changing climate.

Watch the Trailer

LA Femme International Film Festival celebrates films directed, produced and brought to life by women, including female-produced Better Together 

screening on October 18 at 2 pm 

at the Regal Theater, LA Live, 1000 W Olympic Blvd, LA, CA 90047

The catastrophic effects of four million gallons of oil spilling on the ecologically rich Santa Barbara Channel for most of 1969 changed Santa Barbara forever, and ignited a global shift that resulted in new laws and protections for environmental health. Through the years, the community has continued to come together in the face of disasters.

The 47-minute documentary covers community response from that 1969 oil spill all the way to the devastating 2018 Montecito debris flow, and on to community-generated response to climate change. The effects of the 1969 oil blowout were felt across the world, inspiring Earth Day, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act.

Better Together features an array of local activists, including Direct Relief’s President and CEO Thomas Tighe, as well as California thinkers and scientists like oceanographer Sylvia Earle, Paul Ehrlich (author of The Population Bomb)  and Solution Project’s founder Mark Jacobson.

Santa Barbara is rich with community organizations, several of them like the Community Environmental Council, the Environmental Defense Center, and the Environmental Studies Program at the University of California, Santa Barbara, were born directly out of the 1969 oil spill. They are featured in Better Together alongside the Gaviota Coast Conservancy, Santa Barbara Channelkeeper and many others. The newest of these organizations is the Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade, which has gathered over 3,000 volunteers to dig homes and trees out of the mud. It was born, coincidentally, on the 49th anniversary of the oil blowout.

Director Isaac Hernández (Madrid, Spain) offers a poetic and hopeful look at what’s possible at a global level through local action, featuring many solutions generated in Santa Barbara, from the birth of curbside recycling to the first microgrid in the continental United States at Direct Relief’s headquarters.

Funding provided in part by Bobbie and Gerry Rubin. 

Executive Producers: Lynda Weinman (Diving Deep, 2019; The Tale, 2018; Unrest, 2017), Leslie Bhutani (Lutah, 2014) and Linda & Frederick Gluck.

“Better Together” will screen at LA Femme International Film Festival on Oct 18 at 2pm, and at the Santa Barbara Surf Festival on November 9. It won the Best Documentary Feature at the Santiago Independent Film Awards, August 2019, and is a finalist for the Best Doc of the Year. It was also a finalist for the Ted Turner Prize for the film that best expresses environmental stewardship, and official selection for the 2019 Bozeman International Film Celebration. The film celebrated a hometown premiere in the 2019 Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

About the director

Isaac Hernández came to America from Madrid, Spain to study film at Brooks Institute of Photography. His career took him into photography, journalism, painting and writing plays, before returning to produce short films for nonprofits, and finally directing his first feature. He’s working on a memoir about the impact of censored American films during his childhood in Franco’s Spain, and a film honoring the 50th anniversary of UCSB’s Environmental Studies Program. 

About the producer

Nancy Black writes a daily horoscopes column syndicated by Chicago Tribune. She produces films and books with Mercury Press International and serves on the board of The Israel Palestine Project, Committees for Land, Air Water and Species (CLAWS), and Gaviota Coast Conservancy. She was president of the Pesticide Awareness and Alternatives Coalition that successfully campaigned to dramatically reduce the use of pesticides in Santa Barbara’s public parks and schools. 

About Mercury Press International

When co-founders Nancy Black and Isaac Hernández met in 1991, they had a dream to make films together. They founded an animation company, Animagica, which evolved into Mercury Press International, and went on to publish stories and photographs in over 300 publications in 27 countries, including Wall Street Journal, National Geographic Traveler, ESPN, Focus, Stern and USA Today. Now they also produce books (including In Love With Earth by environmental elder Marc McGinnes, which chronicles some of the stories in the film “Better Together”) as well as journalistic videos for nonprofit clients including United Way, Direct Relief, Santa Barbara Scholarship Foundation, Tri-Counties Regional Center, CALM, and UCSB Arts & Lectures. Nancy and Isaac are married with two sons, and reside in Santa Barbara and Madrid. 

Twitter @B2getherFilm

Facebook https://facebook.com/BetterTogether

Instagram: https://instagram.com/BetterTogetherFilm

Trailer https://vimeo.com/301311332

Better Together Media Kit




Directed by

Isaac Hernandez

Produced by

Nancy Black 

Executive Producers 

Leslie Sweem Bhutani

Lynda Weinman 

Linda and Frederick Gluck

Director of Photography 

Isaac Hernandez 


Isaac Hernandez 

Associate Producer

Zegar Family Fund

Music by

Sheena Birrittella


Funded in part by

Bobbie and Gerry Rubin


Featuring (in order of appearance)

Thomas Tighe

Kathi King

Miguel Zepeda-Rosales

Lynn Kirst

Rick Stein


Linda Eckerbom Cole

Abe Powell

Linda MacNeil

Janna Molder

Liz Beebe

Sofia Arabella Martin

Ashlee Mayfield

Robert H. Sollen

James "Bud" Bottoms

Linda Krop

Paul Relis

Marc McGinnes

Barry Capello

Sylvia Earle

Roderick Frazier Nash

President Richard Nixon

Selma Rubin

Francis Sarguis

Michael Lunsford

Lee Heller

Lee Moldaver

Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson

Kira Redmond

Glenn Russell

Elaine Ibarra

Mia Lopez

Paul Ehrlich

Michelle Sevilla

David Pellow

Marc Chytilo 

Katie Davis

Mark Jacobson

Michael Chiacos

Amanda Pantoja

Sigrid Wright



Isaac Hernández



Heather Smith Wennergren

Jon Zuber

Nancy Black


First Camera Operator

Isaac Hernández


Second Camera Operator

Jon Zuber


Selma Interview

Susan Epstein

Jon Zuber

David Cowan


First Assistant Editor

Heather Smith Wennergren


Assistant Editor

Jon Zuber


Sound Engineer

Nicholas Dobbie


Assistant Sound Engineer

Aishwarya Raju



"Better Together" © Jack Johnson/Brushfire Records/Universal Music

"O" © Emiliano Campobello

"Elk Prayer" © Emiliano Campobello and Kevin Donoho