You’re going on a trip from Alaska to Mexico. Dope, right?
But hold on. You won’t be travelling in comfort on an airplane or train or bus. You won’t even be packing up a car for a weeklong road trip. Rather, you’ll be covering this 2,200-mile journey belly-down on a glorified surfboard, pulling yourself down the coast one handful of saltwater at a time.

You in?

This mind-boggling undertaking isn’t some reality show endurance test. No, it’s the lived experience of twin brothers Casey and Ryan Higginbotham, subjects of the documentary By Hand.

In its Midwest debut as part of the Saugatuck Center for the Art’s Real to Reel Film Festival (March 27-28, 2020), this feature-length documentary details the journey of the Higginbothams as they set out from the frigid Alaskan coast bound for sunny Tijuana, Mexico on two prone paddleboards.

Directed by Kellen Keene, By Hand captures the dizzying highs and terrifying lows of their odyssey, one that set a new bar for ocean adventure while reshaping their relationship with themselves, each other and the planet.

By Hand documents a real-life rite of passage of two brothers and the mentorship found in the natural world. I think it’s an important story to share, and we’re more than excited to bring the story to the folks in Michigan,” says Keene.

The film features interviews with adventure sports luminaries, such as mountaineer Jimmy Chin and surfers Kelly Slater and Keith Malloy.

In addition to the screening of By Hand, Real to Reel hosts the Higginbotham brothers and Keene at several events during the festival.

The trio will be on-hand to introduce the film during the opening night party on Friday, March 27. Then on Saturday, March 28, join them for beer and banter during the Director’s Conversation as they discuss the rigors of paddling and filming across more than 2,000 miles of open ocean.

Saugatuck Center for the Arts also has the distinction of debuting the brother’s coffee table book, which sheds further light on their journey through never-before-seen journal entries, photos and route maps. Copies of the book will be available for purchase and signing.

Real to Reel Film Festival is West Michigan’s premiere film festival centered around humanity’s connection to the outdoors. Featuring films from Mountainfilm on Tour alongside events, discussions, parties and live music, Real to Reel offers contemplative, inspiring and entertaining perspectives on a variety of topics. For a full list of events, go to realtoreel.sc4a.org and to get your tickets, head to www.realtoreel.sc4a.org/tickets

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