Mike's Field Trip to the Movies is a popular highlight at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.
The annual event honors Mike DeGruy, a beloved nature cinematographer from Santa Barbara who died in a filming accident in 2012.
DeGruy's brainchild from years past brings hundreds of school children to the Arlington Theatre for a special screening during the film festival.
Walt Disney's 3-D animated film Coco celebrates the stunning and colorful land of the dead known in Mexican culture as Day of the Dead or Dia de los Muertos. The film paid homage to the wildly popular holiday and was a huge hit Friday with 4th through 6th graders from 15 schools in Santa Barbara County.
"I liked it because I liked the music in it," said Carlos Ruiz, a 5th grader at Clarence Ruth Elementary School in Lompoc. "And I liked the skeletons in it. They were funny."
The main character in the film, Miguel, is taken on an extraordinary journey to discover the real story behind his family's history, more specifically, those who've passed on.
It is a message Joel Estrada, a 5th grader from Lompoc Elementary School, took to heart.
"It's sending me that my grandpa's watching me because he passed away a few years ago," Estrada said. "And we still remember his and we can't forget him."
Those not familiar with Mexican culture were especially impressed.
"It was very interesting," said Amber Boadway, a 6th grade teacher at Clarence Ruth Elementary School. "I didn't know about the spirits. And the kids, you could tell they really got into it."
"The illustration is beautiful, the language is gorgeous," said Phyliss Cohen, a substitute teacher at Franklin Elementary School in Santa Barbara. "It actually validated a lot of their customs which is what enhances it. I think the children really gained terrific self esteem from it. Hurrah!"