Break out the popcorn. In what could well be billed as paddling’s Oscars, the 18th Annual Paddling Film Festival World Tour premiered on Feb. 23, marking the event’s first in-person premiere since 2020. Hosted by The Complete Paddler at Toronto’s Royal Theatre and Rapid Media/Paddling magazine, the event treated the audience to the first screening of the year’s award-winning films, with all proceeds benefitting Project Canoe, an organization that provides educational and therapeutic outdoor programming to at-risk youth, mainly through a summer wilderness canoe trip program.
2023 Paddling Film Festival Winners
Environmental: Bad River
Director: Beau Miles
Producers: Beau Miles, Mitch Drummond
In a little red kayak, Beau Miles descends the 23-kilometer-long Cooks River in Sydney, Australia. This is a journey of ill health, sadness and hope. Miles tests the local saying about the river: “If you fall in, you’ll dissolve.”
Adventure Travel: Baffin Vacation
Directors: Sarah McNair-Landry, Erik Boomer
Producers: Rush Sturges, Erik Boomer, Sarah McNair-Landry
Erik Boomer and Sarah McNair-Landry set off on a bold multisport 45-day expedition — traveling through the remote landscape of Baffin Island in search of stunning cliffs to climb and unexplored rivers to whitewater kayak.
Kayaking: Iceland’s Most Remote Peninsula: Hornstrandir By Kayak
Director & Producer: Eike Köhler
Due to its proximity to the Arctic Circle, Hornstrandir on Iceland’s remote north coast is hardly protected. In paddling Iceland’s most remote peninsula, this group of kayakers learns how to fail beautifully.
Director & Producer: Dane Jackson
For decades, Eastern Canada has brought people from all over the world to paddle its variety of whitewater, with its big waves luring the sport’s best like Dane Jackson. Every year, a small group of whitewater athletes dedicates their time to the chase. Those who started this tradition gave it a name: Stakeout.
Documentary: WILD WATERS
Director: David Arnaud
Producer: Red Bull Media House
Adventurer, competitor, daughter, friend, pioneer, and hero are all words describing French kayaker Nouria Newman. In Wild Waters, she grows from a young Olympic hopeful to one of the greatest kayakers of all time, with viewers following her as she prepares to become the first female to run a 100-foot waterfall. But perhaps her biggest challenges, however, are realizing the expectations placed upon her as an athlete and as a woman as she pushes back to make her own path.
Canoeing: Grey Beard: The Man, The Myth, the Mississippi
Director: Zak Rivers
Producers: Zak Rivers, Alex Maier, Kyle Johnson, Amy Robin
At 87, Dale “Grey Beard” Sanders challenges himself to set another world record, trying to reclaim his title as the oldest person to paddle the full source to sea on the Mississippi River. “One of these days I’ll get old,” he maintains…
Director & Producer: Will Reddaway
Tragedies in former lifeguard Brendon Prince’s past forced a change in his life to pursue water safety education. In the pursuit of raising awareness for this cause, he must put his own life at risk, pushing his limits and attempting something no one has accomplished before. Circumnavigate follows the South Devon-based father of three as he attempts to become the first person to standup paddleboard around mainland Britain in hopes of breaking five world records.
Directors & Producers: Dale Wright, Isaac Wright
Georgie, a forgotten raft rediscovered at a yard sale, narrates her story of running rivers. From her wild days with legendary Georgie White in the Grand Canyon to leisurely weekend floats, Georgie’s wisdom rings true to every generation of river traveler.
Short: On, In & Under The Sava
Directors: Rožle Bregar, Carmen Kuntz
Producers: Balkan River Defence, Leeway Collective
Armed with a raft, snorkels and flippers, four friends drift down Slovenia’s Sava River. Their mission: find the elusive finned monsters that dwell in the deep, in order to help protect the Sava from dams.
Fishing: On The Edge
Director & Producer: Katie Falkenberg
Five women set out on an eight-day, 65-mile pack rafting journey deep in the wilderness of Montana. A trip inspired by self-growth, adventure and world-class westslope cutthroat trout fishing quickly evolves into a deeper exploration of how we are on the edge of a new climate era. The group begins to question what the future of conservation and ethical wilderness recreation will look like in a rapidly changing climate.
Find a World Tour event near you at paddlingfilmfestival.com/world-tour or click here for the release of the 2023 virtual program.