By Madelyn Ritrosky
Entertainment Magazine

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival includes a number of nature and sports films with special appeal to the younger crowd. 

When I picked up my copy of the festival’s film guide, my six-year-old son, Jared Winslow, was keen to have me peruse the pages for some “kids” movies.  In the end, he saw the four films listed below – and he liked them all.  We decided that the reviews for these particular films would be based primarily on his reactions.  So while I asked him questions and added my own thoughts and suggestions, these reviews reflect Jared’s ideas. 


DEEP BLUE has many, many beautiful images and sequences.  It makes for a film that is very cinematic, more impressive than standard nature documentaries.  There were no scary scenes for Jared, but there were a few scary parts for Sharky, Jared’s “animal friend.”  Sharky is a small, cuddly hammerhead shark who accompanied Jared to several of the films.  Jared also wants to specify that DEEP BLUE shows us some “aliens” in the deep, deep, deep water.  He calls them “aliens” because they look strange to us, even though they are obviously from our own planet Earth.  Jared also saw a killer whale find some meals, some larger whales, some sharks hunting in the night, and incredible schools of fish fill the screen with lush underwater images. 


This sports/travel movie is comprised entirely of snowboarding sequences shot high up in majestic snow-covered mountains and their nearby towns.  The filmmakers traveled around the world, to such countries as Finland, Austria, and the United States.  As you can guess from the title, the film starts with the James Bond theme music.  The high-energy opening sequence introduces, through interesting visual graphics, the dozen or more snowboarders from several countries who participated in the film.  The film connects the snowboarding sequences through a day and night airplane journey around the world, with an animated plane and a flight attendant’s voice announcing the destinations.  


What a cute film!  The premise is people “competing” against birds, mammals, reptiles, fish, and amphibians in Winter Olympic sports, including sledding, cross-country endurance, skiing, ski jump, and speed skating.  The filmmakers use clever computer animation combined with live action to create a wintry Olympics setting, complete with “sports” commentators.  Bird competitors include particular species of penguins, geese, and a few other birds.  The reptile entry was a turtle, the amphibian was a frog, and salmon were for the fish.  Mammals were represented by several species, including a wolf, reindeer, snow leopard, musk ox, and a flying squirrel.  A tiger was the referee.  Human contestants included various champions in the particular sports.  One “contest” was for cold endurance, and included a naked man who uses yoga and meditation.  But the penguins won that competition.  This film is a fun way to learn.


Dolphins are one of Jared’s favorite animals, so when he saw this title, he knew he wanted to see it.  This film shows us research that is being done on intelligence in dolphins.  One experiment included an underwater monitor for the dolphins to watch and listen to for instructions. 

There were also experiments that reveal the extent to which dolphins use their sonar to precisely identify things behind solid surfaces.  There are also dolphins who have learned a special sign language.  All of this research is designed to determine just how smart these marine mammals are.  The research concludes that, yes, indeed, dolphins are deep thinkers. 

Top Photo courtesy of Miramax Films.  
2nd Photo courtesy of Anuschka De Rohan

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Santa Barbara
International Film Festival