Those who love the outdoors, the ocean, and wildlife, should come inside this week to watch a film or two. This year’s Santa Barbara International Film Festival Reel Nature sidebar features some of the best documentaries recently released in the US and UK. A common theme this year is animals struggling to survive, despite the obstacles against them.
Broken Tail: A Tiger’s Last Journey
Directed by Colin Stafford-Johnson
This story chronicles the life and death of a tiger destined for greatness, who may still lead the way to a better future for those of his kind. From the beginning, wildlife filmmaker Colin Stafford-Johnson could tell Broken Tail was special and spent over 600 days following and filming Broken Tail and his family. Then one day Broken Tail simply disappeared. Stafford-Johnson and his guide set off on horseback, tracing Broken Tail’s last journey. Talking to poachers and eyewitnesses, the duo went across India, learning surprising facts from this remarkable tiger’s passage and hoping they will help in the conservation of this endangered species.
Sat, Jan 28, 10 AM, Santa Barbara Museum of Art
Mon, Jan 30, 2 PM, Metro 4
Run time: 90 min.
Frozen Planet: On Thin Ice
Directed by Dan Rees
British naturalist Sir David Attenborough investigates what rising temperatures will mean for the people and wildlife that live at the poles – and for the rest of life on the entire planet. He begins his journey at the North Pole, standing on sea ice several feet thick – ice that scientists predict could be open ocean within the next few decades. The Arctic has been warming at twice the global average, so Attenborough heads out with a Norwegian team to see what this means for polar bears – and discovers they are going hungry as the sea ice on which they hunt disappears faster every year. In Canada, the Arctic Ocean has lost 30% of its summer ice cover over the last 30 years. Temperatures are also rising in the Antarctic. Attenborough revisits glaciers photographed by the Shackleton expedition a hundred years ago and sees a dramatic retreat. And it’s not just the ice that is changing. Ice-loving adelie penguins are disappearing, and more temperate gentoo penguins are moving in. Finally, we see the first ever images of our planet’s largest natural event in recent history: the breakup of the Wilkins Ice Shelf, an ice sheet the size of Jamaica, which shattered into hundreds of icebergs in 2009.
Tue, Jan 31, 11 AM, Metro 4
Thu, Feb 2, 8 AM, Metro 1
Run time: 60 min.
Frozen Planet: Spring
Directed by Mark Linfield
Spring arrives in the poles, and the sun appears after many months of darkness … and so do the adelie penguins. In the Antarctic, the sun seems welcoming, but that’s a cruel illusion as its return triggers fierce katabatic winds – making it the most dangerous time of the year for the adelies. Despite the winds, the migrants cannot delay their mission: the beaches and cliffs quickly fill with penguins who build nests in an attempt to attract the best mates. The males stop at nothing, including crime, to out-do their rivals. Meanwhile, three-ton elephant seals fight furious battles over females on a beach that contains the densest concentration of animals on the planet. In the Arctic, a woolly bear caterpillar emerges from the snow having spent the winter frozen solid. While most caterpillars become moths within months of hatching, the woolly bear caterpillar takes 14 years to reach adulthood, due to the harsh conditions. Once mature it has only days to find a mate if it is to survive.
Mon, Jan 30, 11 AM, Metro 4
Sat, Feb 4, 4 PM, Santa Barbara Museum of Art
Run time: 60 min.
Frozen Planet: To the Ends of the Earth
Directed by Vanessa Berlowitz
Travel to the ends of the earth to the north and south polar regions, to experience the planet’s most extreme seasons and find out how the poles are actually ‘poles apart.’ While the Arctic is a frozen ocean surrounded by continents, Antarctica is a frozen continent surrounded by the ocean — and vastly different animals live in them. In the Arctic, the return of sunlight and warmth brings life back to the top of the world. Witness a pair of courting polar bears who reveal a surprisingly tender side, while humpback whales join the largest gathering of seabirds on earth to feast in rich Alaskan waters. At the other end of the planet, Antarctic scenes begin in the Southern Ocean where surfing penguins struggle to escape a hungry sea lion, with surprising results. And, captured on film for the first time ever, teams of hunting orcas work collaboratively to create giant waves that sweep Weddell seals off ice floes.
Sun, Jan 29, 10 AM, Santa Barbara Museum of Art
Sun, Feb 5, 8:10 AM, Metro 3
Run time: 60 min.
The Last Reef (3D)
Directed by Luke Cresswell & Steve McNicholas
Fly across iridescent tropical reefs, brush through a cloud of a million jellyfish, visit an alien world where the closer you look, the more you see. In our lifetime, oceanic reefs have come under threat: human activity is altering the chemistry of the oceans. As the sea becomes more acidic, coral, shell and bone begin to crumble. Shot on location in Palau, Vancouver Island, French Polynesia, Mexico, and the Bahamas, The Last Reef takes us on a global journey to explore our connection with the ocean’s complex, parallel worlds. New underwater 3D technology takes us into the heart of the reef, revealing a habitat more diverse and more colorful than you ever imagined. Yet what would it mean to us if one of these vibrant wonderlands were to become the last reef?
Sun, Feb 5, 10:40 AM, Metro 3
Run time: 40 min.
Directed by Bob Talbot
A storm grows, a sea otter pup is separated from her mother, and a young woman bound for adventure blows in to town. On a wild and windswept beach these lives collide and an entire species’ survival gets personal. Through Katie’s eyes you will see our playful pup, otter number 501, get an amazing second chance at life in the wild. Framed against the strikingly beautiful Monterey Bay coastline, Katie discovers just how serious this threat remains. Their adventure, unexpected as it was, illustrates what we can do to contribute to the growing movement to protect the southern sea otter and ourselves.
Thu, Feb 2, 4 PM, Metro 1
Sat, Feb 4, 8 AM, Metro 1
Sun, Feb 5, 2 PM, Metro 4
Run time: 85 min.
Santa Barbara Museum of Art