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Paddling Film Festival World Tour debuts at Arden Theatre

Ten adventure films captured on international locations, information booths and door prizes are available.

Spring is on our doorstep. Warm winds are blowing in from the southwest and paddlers are feeling a buzz in the air. It’s time to pack up the kayak or canoe and head for the nearest river. 

To get the season off to a strong start, the United Albertan Paddling Society (UAPS) presents the 19th annual Paddling Film Festival at the Arden Theatre on Tuesday, April 16. 

The main event features the Paddling Film Festival World Tour featuring 10 shorts along with information booths and $3,500 in door prizes donated by major recreational and sports outlets. 

“This event happens in southern Alberta every year. There are lots of groups in Calgary that participate. Our paddlers were missing out and we thought it would be a good idea to bring it to the northern Alberta community,” said Caitlyn Legris, president of the United Albertan Paddling Association.  

The Paddling Film Festival is an adventure-filled tour showcasing the world’s best paddling films of year — whitewater, sea kayaking, canoeing, action and lifestyle. The paddling takes place in more than 120 cities and towns across Canada and the world.  

With 29 inspiring paddling films shortlisted for the World Tour, including the 11 festival category winners, audiences will see hairy whitewater action, canoe expeditions, international travel films, environmental documentaries and gruelling kayak fishing battles stated Kate Neigel, vice-president of UAPS. 

Paddlers journey to numerous locals in the world. In A Canoe Perspective, Jamie Barns travels to Scotland with Canadian long-distance paddler Martin Trahan to paddle a small but formidable circuit in the Northern Highlands. 

Surface – A Norwegian Ski Rafting Adventure follows an international team of three friends as they explore northern Norway on skis before finishing their Arctic adventure, traversing four islands in brutal storms and rough seas. 

The winner of the 2024 Best Kayak Fishing Film is Rods, Rolls and Reality on the Soca where a group of kayakers try to nab a trout and end up creating a playground for misadventure. 

Bad River: Rafting the Most Polluted River in Australia is guided by offbeat adventurist Beau Miles. He finds himself in Tasmania descending a sickly orange, biologically dead river the locals call “pumpkin soup.” 

The film closes with There's Good in Everything as whitewater legend Aniol Serrasolses goes kayaking the rivers of Chile. 

Originally, the UAPS was launched in the late '70s as the University of Alberta Paddling Society. However, by 2008, the club divorced itself from the university. 

“There was less support for the club. We had just purchased a domain name under United Albertan Paddling Society and we did not want to see the acronym go,” Legris said. “The club separated and registered as a non-profit.” 

The club teaches a variety of whitewater kayaking programs from beginner to more advanced. Pool practice skills are held at East Glen Leisure Centre with summer classes taking on a bigger role to establish safe kayaking practice and improve skill development. 

“We’re limited with experienced instructors. However, the instructors we have are stoked to be out on the water and are entirely volunteer,” Legris said. 

The Paddling Festival starts at 6 p.m. where five recreational organizations will host information tables. They include Alberta Whitewater Association, Paddle Alberta, Ceyano Canoe Club, Northwest Voyageurs and AQ Outdoors. 

The Paddling Festival World Tour screens at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 and are available at or by calling 780-459-1542. 

Anna Borowiecki

About the Author: Anna Borowiecki

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