Film Review: “Rivering”

Rivering 1

Kayaking is a visually amazing sport. The sights of the rapids, the sounds, and the way in which the extreme ends of the sport often involve falling off gigantic waterfalls. It isn’t surprising that companies will usually only sponsor content that shows such extremes. After all, they want the “wow” factor. The trouble is that this is often completely off putting to new participants in the sport. I have long since argued that kayaking companies and publishers need to do more to portray the fun side of the sport, and to entrench more the idea that anyone can give white water paddling a go.

The sport is more than an adrenaline rush. The environments are beautiful and the people are fun to be with. Going on a white water kayaking trip doesn’t have to be about risking life and limb at every corner!

Back in 2013 filmmaker Bill Parks set upon the idea of creating a documentary that shows the real side of white water paddling. Taking his cues from the Warren Miller ski films of the past, Bill wanted to show the communities, the camaraderie, the characters, as well as the scenery and excitement that goes along with our sport. There was just one problem. Funding. Filmmaking costs, both in equipment and time. And so it was that Bill set about raising funds for his venture through IndieGoGo. The result is “Rivering”, and it was finally released to the wider public this week.

I have to confess that I had a small role. I made a small contribution to the funding, as well as some advice regarding sound design and edit feedback. But even considering this, “Rivering” is by far and away one of the best kayaking documentaries out there. You will not see the insane waterfalls of Bomb Flow, or the gargantuan rapids of Congo. But as a result of this you won’t get the arduously dull scenes of expedition preparation that you find on those types of films either!

What you will get is 1.5 hours of seeing people having fun on the water, getting to meet some truly brilliant characters with some laugh out loud philosophies on kayaking and life in general. Please don’t misunderstand me, this isn’t a film full of class 2 water. There’s some big stuff in there, too, but the film doesn’t neglect beginners either. Bill knows about filmmaking, so he weaves a story. We see the progression of a complete beginner as they set off on their first steps to learning the sport, as well as seeing those who have been paddling for aeons on class 5. All of this is interweaved with background narratives and interviews with older generation paddlers and historic film.

The film never takes itself or the sport too seriously. There’s none of the pretentious pseudo philosophy and musings that make so many other kayaking films generic and dull. The kayakers featured are extremely likeable, witty, and clearly at home in front of the camera.

Simply put, “Rivering” is a wonderful ode to the sport of paddling. View the full film for free at https://vimeo.com/170380151

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