Reel Paddling Film Festival is coming to Powell River on Wednesday, November 22. As the name suggests, the films that will be screened are all about recreational paddling.
This is the 12th annual worldwide touring festival, but it is the first time for Powell River, joining 120 cities from across Canada, United States and around the world.
The event is being organized jointly by students of School District 47’s outdoor experiential education course, Coast Mountain Academy, as well as the first class in the new Adventure Tourism and Recreation program at Vancouver Island University's Powell River campus.
“It's kind of like our final exam,” said VIU student and festival organizer Daffney Jones. “The course we're taking right now is leadership studies, and by putting on this film festival we're hoping to be put into some leadership roles interacting with the community.”
There are 20 films shortlisted for the Real Paddling Film Festival World Tour and students will be selecting those that will be shown in Powell River, according to outdoor educator Ryan Barfoot, who is supervising the project.
Some of the films are only a few minutes long and others are up to 20 minutes. Jones said the students will likely choose four to 10 films, depending on length, for a program lasting one to two hours.
Barfoot said he first saw the festival while attending Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.
“This is focused on paddling and it's a really strong fit with our community,” said Barfoot, “it being an isolated community on the ocean with a really strong paddling interest here.”
Jones said the festival is an opportunity to promote all of the paddling activities in the region for an already active audience.
“We have the Powell Forest Canoe Route; there's lots of sea kayaking,” she said. “We have a really big paddling community already.”
The festival is similar to Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour, an annual highlight for outdoor enthusiasts in Powell River, according to Reel Paddling coordinator Ray Bretzloff.
“Filmmakers from around the world submit their films,” said Bretzloff. “We select the best ones from a variety of fishing, white water, ocean kayak and environmental films. It's a huge range.”
The films the students will be choosing from include The Canoe, billed as a reflection of what the Canadian canoe culture looks like today; Eyes of God, about an international team of extreme kayakers; Labrador Passage, following two men who set out to retrace a 1905 canoe journey; Sea Kayak Around Ireland, about fulfilling a dream of circumnavigating the coastline of Ireland; and SUP Surfing in Barbados, detailing the search for the perfect wave.
Not yet confirmed is a possible showing of Coast Mountain Academy alumni and filmmaker Tao Werner's production about the academy's annual canoe trip.
Barfoot said the event is planned as an informal evening for people to come together, talk about the recreational paddling community and be inspired.
“All the proceeds from this festival are going to Powell River Search and Rescue,” said Jones. “We're excited to do a community fundraiser for them.”
Reel Paddling Film Festival takes place at Coastal Cookery at 6:30 pm on Wednesday, November 22. Tickets are available for $15 at eventbrite.com and locally at Base Camp and Vancouver Island University.