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Thousands of students visit Santa Barbara International Film Festival

About 4,000 elementary school students between Carpinteria to Santa Maria enjoyed a free screening at the Arlington Theater in Downtown Santa Barbara on Tuesday.

The “Mike’s Field Trip to the Movies” program is part of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. It’s in honor of former legendary cinematographer Mike DeGruy. Fourth through sixth graders are invited to free screenings and get to interact with directors each year. This year, students watched Zootopia and had their questions answered by one of film’s directors, Byron Howard.

“We’re here to watch Zootopia and hear what the directors have to say and I’m excited to be here,” said Summer McCeney, a sixth grader from Ellwood Elementary School.

The fun field trip is designed to be education by stimulating the creative side of the students’ minds.

“They all have to come up with questions to ask the producers.. the directors of the film that are here. So we try to invoke an interest for them to maybe take a career in making movies and writing stories,” said Louise Dahlquist, a fifth grade teacher at Ellwood Elementary School.

This program is one of many held during the two week film festival. According to the event’s volunteer team coordinator, it can’t be done without the volunteers like 82-year-old Helen Cornell.

“It’s great. I really don’t get tired. I’m just glad to do it,” said Cornell.

She is celebrating 32 years of volunteering at the film festival. By day, Cornell is a receptionist at Jordano’s, a food and beverage supplier.

“The fact that they don’t get paid in most instances as we are volunteers, but we get the treat of showing off Santa Barbara and seeing some beautiful movies,” said Cornell.

Through the years, Helen has made many friends and memories through the festival.

“Johnny Depp is my biggest claim to fame and that was just last year so that’s delightful,” said Cornell.

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