Review: Reel Paddling Film Festival World Tour Premiere

Date: Thursday, February 5, 2015

Location: Famous Players Cinemas, 2200 Yonge Street, Toronto

Time: 7pm (doors opened at 6:30)

Host: The Complete Paddler, with proceeds benefitting Project Canoe

The 10th annual Reel Paddling Film Festival started off with a bang Thursday night, drawing the audience deep into a canyon with BIG whitewater in northern British Columbia. Festival organizers kept the energy flowing, premiering winners in several new and existing categories including two films highlighting the health of our [read: American] river systems and one sweet look at Greenlandic qajaq (kayak) culture.

The first half of the show included four short films under 20 minutes followed by the 50+ minute DamNation. Intermission ran a little long and the show picked back up at 9:30, concluding with four more shorts at about 15 minutes each. The sold-out audience of paddlers and non-paddlers (or as founder Scott MacGregor likes to refer to them, “future paddlers”) seemed to appreciate every minute, every story.

The Grand Canyon of the Stikine rushed the audience down the Everest of whitewater with an international team of kayakers. We caught our breath and brought our heart rates down with Kayak Fishing Lake Guntersville – the winner of the Kayak Fishing category which took a look at the ultimate in bass fishing, Top 10 Tips for Canoeing & Kayaking Safely – an American Canoe Association animated winner in the new Instructional category, and How Not to Steal a Kayak – the none-too-serious winner of the new Amateur category. We then settled in for DamNation, Ben Knight’s Documentary winner. The movie guided viewers through the history of dam culture in the United States and the changing views that are allowing American rivers to reclaim their health. After a 20 minute intermission, the folks from The Complete Paddler gave away fun door prizes from weekends at Ontario Sea Kayak Centre to a Badger paddle to an inflatable stand-up paddle board. And then it was on with the show. Delta Dawn followed a couple of river runners down the Colorado River after an experimental pulse of water attempted to connect the river back to the sea for the first time in almost two decades. Caleb may have been the most inspiring of the night for encouraging people to get out and do what they love to do, no matter their ability. Filmmaker Goh Iromoto followed British bushcraft master Ray Mears into Wabikimi Provincial Park in We Belong to It. We lucked out for the final film of the night, having the filmmaker (Ontario Sea Kayak Centre’s James Roberts) in the audience. A Paddler’s Pilgrimage celebrated the kayak’s importance to Greelandic culture.

The film festival is truly inspiring for paddlers and future paddlers alike. More information about the Reel Paddling Film Festival, including tour stops and dates, is available at reelpaddlingfilmfestival.com.

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