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My Favorite Movies of 2011

I’ve watched so many movies this past year of 2011. I thank God for giving me such great opportunities to write movie reviews for KidsPickFlicks and Scholastic Kids Press Corps. These were some of my favorite movies that came out in 2011: You can read my movie reviews for Soul Surfer, Arthur Christmas, Dolphin Tale, Born to Be Wild, War Horse,  Hugo,  Winnie the Pooh,  Courageous,  On Stranger Tides,  We Bought a Zoo,  Adventures of Tin Tin, The Help, Mr Popper’s Penguins, Mars Needs Moms,  Monte Carlo


Biologist Turned Filmmaker Shares Skills

David Lickley (Director)

As a kid, David Lickley dreamed of rocking the world as a famous folk singer. He hit it big, but in a different way—as a documentary filmmaker.

“I began as a biologist and a musician,” Lickley told Scholastic News in a recent interview. “I was into music and biology, so I started to do small soundtracks for other people’s work.”

He moved into filming the animals he was studying, which lead to directing documentaries. Now, with more than 25 years of filmmaking experience, Lickley is the Director of Large Format Films for Science North, a leader in science education. He not only directs documentaries, he is a writer and producer as well.

“The job of the producer is to get the project going, and to watch over the project,” he said. “The job of the director is more of the creative side. You’re looking after what is going on the screen, and how you’re telling the story. The writer is there to make it all work. I enjoy being a director because you don’t have to worry about the logistics, but you can just focus on the story.”

The skills that help Lickley handle all three roles came through education and hard work. He has a Master’s Degree in biology and he spends a great deal of time studying animals for his films.

“Understanding what animals are all about and understanding the people that study them was where I began in this career,” he said. “Then I went to the point of trying to tell their stories. It’s important to communicate what you do to the world.”

Lickley has written, produced, and directed documentaries on a wide range of subjects, all of which have something to do with biology.

“I like real stories about real people, and I like animals,” he said. “Generally, my films are about animals as a broad subject, but also the people who work with them. I think documentaries are fantastic for getting people into the world, and it’s nice to show them things that they don’t know about.”

Lickley is known for directing Jane Goodall’s Wild Chimpanzees, and more recently, Born to Be Wild, a touching story about two remarkable women who have dedicated their lives to nurturing orphan orangutans and elephants.

Lickley encourages kids to start making their own films if they want to follow in his steps.

“Get an education. Spend as much time as you possibly can learning about things, and then pick up the tools if you want to be a filmmaker,” he said. “Technology is successful, and everyone can start filming with a small camera. You have a huge advantage now. You can post things on the web and you’ll learn how to tell stories.”

Lickley concluded by sharing some tips about writing with this reporter.

“It’s about doing it,” he said. “Just write. Write stories. Start making your own films. Just do it! The Nike slogan [Just Do It!] is really true now. The tools are there. You don’t need 20 years of experience. You can still make really interesting films. It’s about storytelling, and that’s what writing is, trying to tell a story.”


Check out my interview with director David Lickley @Scholastic Inc, first published at

Born to be Wild IMAX 3D opens hearts and minds to animal rescue Press Conference

“They’re so close to humans—they share 96 per cent of our genetic material,” said Dr. Galdikas. “They share the same emotions with us. You can read them. You can tell if they’re angry, jealous, even if they’re embarrassed. You can tell if they like something or they don’t like something. They’re very gentle, benevolent, and benign.”

The cast and crew captured unforgettable scenes with the childlike, carefree orangutans.

“One of the particularly memorable shots for me was when there was an orangutan up in a tree, swinging, and he grabs another tree,” said Lickley. “He pulls it and it comes crashing down. We didn’t expect the tree to fall, but that’s the orangutan world is all about. That was an amazing, lucky shot to get, to be there, rolling, when that incident happened.”

Another memorable scene in the film took place in Kenya.

Dr. Galdikas and her son

Dr. Galdikas and her son

“With the elephants, it was the elephant rescue,” Lickley continued. “We hoped that we had a chance to film a baby elephant rescue, but it was right down to the last week of filming and they hadn’t found an elephant to rescue. Then it just kind of happened, right in front of our eyes. We were able to capture it as it was happening.”

Born to Be Wild underlines the bonding between humans and orphans of the wild.

“You reap what you sow with an elephant,” said Dr. Sheldrick. “If a caregiver is kind and loves the elephants from their heart, the elephants will detect that and like him.”

In many ways elephants are just like human children, said Sheldrick.

“When you raise them in the nursery, you see them every day,” she said. “We replace the elephant family with a human family, and the elephants will remember their human family for life. It’s been scientifically proven that the memory part of an elephant’s brain far surpasses human’s memory. The saying that an elephant never forgets is absolutely true.”

Dr.Dame Daphne Sheldrick

Dr.Dame Daphne Sheldrick

“When you are watching Born to Be Wild, there’s something in your heart that reaches out to these animals,” said Lickley. “Dr. Galdikas and Dr. Sheldrick show us that everyone can make a difference. And that’s what this film is trying to do—to get that emotional impact across to the audience.”


Check out my interview with them @Scholastic Inc,  First published at

Born to Be Wild IMAX 3D Movie Review

Born to Be Wild IMAX 3D
Rated: G
Opens: Friday, April 8, 2011
Running Time: 40 min. (exclusively in IMAX theatres)

Born to Be Wild will transport you to the lush green jungles of Borneo to see orphan orangutans with primatologist Dr. Birute Galdikas. You will also follow elephant specialist Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick in the rough savannahs of Kenya as she nurses orphan elephants.

The Warner Bros. documentary Born to Be Wild is magnificently captured in IMAX 3D. It tells the stories of two amazing, remarkable women who have dedicated their lives to rehabilitate animals back into the wild. Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman lends his distinctive and authoritative voice to the narration.

The film captures the orangutans’ sense of adventure and humor. Scenes of mischievous orangutans trying to swing on a clothes line, or spilling milk all over themselves, or baby orangutans taking a bath had the audience bursting with laughter.

Along with the humor, comes heart-gripping emotion, as Dr. Galdikas and her team release the orphans who are old enough to live on their own into the forest.

Let’s not forget the elephants! I soon learned from this movie that elephants are fun-loving, family oriented creatures. They love to wrestle and enjoy daily mud baths. One of the fantastic scenes was a crazy soccer game with elephants running around, people hooting, and dust flying up.

Elephants are extremely social, so the keepers not only spend their days nurturing the elephants; they also sleep beside them in their stalls.

In the movie, Dr. Sheldrick explains that the elephants “choose” their keepers. I could immediately see the intense emotional impact between keeper and animal.

Orangutans and elephants are on the verge of extinction. Born to Be Wild shows what we do can to make sure these amazing animals will always be loved, free, and wild.


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