Paddling Film Festival Goes Virtual In 2021 – with hosts in 130 cities around the globe

The 16th annual Paddling Film Festival showcases the very best paddling films of the year ­­and is now screening in theatres and living rooms everywhere.

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    For 2021, as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown and restricted public gatherings, we’re adapting our 130+ city tour and evolving the Paddling Film Festival. This year local hosts will offer both live in-theatre shows, where possible, and virtual online streaming programs in communities where it is not viable to host live in-theatre screenings.

    “We’re committed to supporting our local outdoor communities with engaging live shows in theatres, school auditoriums and church basements,” says festival founder and director Scott MacGregor. “We’ve always believed the best place to see the year's best paddling films is on the big screen surrounded by friends and family—but we know this year is different.”

    The Paddling Film Festival has awarded $81,500 in cash prizes to filmmakers and World Tour hosts have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for local charitable projects. World Tour hosts, such as paddling shops, clubs and events, donate proceeds from ticket sales and on-site fundraisers to local causes.

    For this year, local hosts can now provide their viewers with virtual programs in the comfort and safety of their homes. And to offset smaller live screenings and further support local fundraising efforts, local hosts will share in the virtual screening ticket sales revenues. 

    “It’s not just about enjoying an evening of the year’s best paddling films,” says MacGregor. “We needed to design our hybrid World Tour model so local screenings will continue to support local social initiatives and environmental projects.” 

    This year, you can watch winners and shortlisted World Tour films curated into three virtual programs available for rent on-demand: If the stomach-churning thrill of dropping onto a big wave or into remote wilderness gets you out on the water, opt for Adrenaline; if you want to escape into the world and explore still-secluded rivers or unpaddled seas, go for Adventure; or if you’re interested in the unspoken bond bringing river rafters, creekers, kayak fishermen, wilderness canoeists, paddleboarders and big-wave river surfers together, choose Culture.

    “We are always on the lookout for brilliant cinemaphotography and compelling stories,” says MacGregor. “Whether it’s one woman’s solo descent of the Indus River in a kayak, a documentary about the traditional uses of outrigger canoes, or a bachelor party raft trip to ski mountains of Alaska, we let the films tell the stories of what paddling can means to us. And we reward the best filmmakers with cash prizes and by showcasing their work.”

    So far, the 16th annual Paddling Film Festival World Tour features 18 of the year’s best paddling films. Additional virtual programs will be released mid-February and throughout 2021.

    “We’ll pack all the local cinemas with paddlers again soon,” says MacGregor. “In the meantime, our new hybrid World Tour format will continue on a limited big screen, thousands of small screens, and even your mobile phone screen.”

    The Paddling Film Festival has screened in theatres 984 times to more than 296,864 audience members. The World Tour is one of the largest paddling events and continues to inspire us to explore rivers, lakes and oceans, push extremes, embrace the paddling lifestyle and appreciate wild places. 

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    Giving a gift? Gift Cards are now available.

    The World Tour is possible with the support of the following festival partners: