Mainers love a good paddle.

And with the pristine coastline at our kayak’s ready, good paddles are easy to come by.

That helps explain why cars in this state often head to the water’s edge with a slender boat on top, like a brightly colored car hat.

The Paddler’s Film Festival is hoping to lure those paddle-wielding folks inside for an evening, where there still will be plenty of water adventure – on the big screen, at least.

The third annual festival, at One Longfellow Square in Portland, features five paddle-centric films. Short films are shown in their entirety, and selected scenes from longer films, such as John Bowermaster’s “Terra Antarctica,” will be shown so attendees can get more films for their buck.

Eliza Ginn, membership and marketing manager at the Maine Island Trail Association, says festival organizers hope to inspire people who are interested in paddling to go outside.

“It’s exciting to see places beyond our backyard,” she said. “Especially in April, when no one is out there yet.”

This year’s lineup includes selections from “Dream Result,” which features the world-record waterfall descent of the 186-foot Palouse Falls. It also includes big-air freestyle on the flooded rivers of Quebec, and waterfalls in Chile and Scandinavia.

“Earl’s Canoe” introduces Earl Nyholm of the Ojibwe Nation, who builds a traditional birch-bark canoe. It’s an interesting film showing another side of the industry, Ginn said.

An independent documentary, “Paddle to Seattle,” chronicles two paddlers in handmade, wooden Pygmy kayaks as they travel the 1,300-mile Inside Passage from Alaska to Seattle.

The festival also boasts a claymation short film for the second year, “Kayaking is Not a Crime.”

And selections from “Terra Antarctica” highlight a six-week-long exploration of the Antarctic Peninsula by sea kayak.

“We have a great combination of scenic, adventure we always try to have some adrenaline, like the 186-foot waterfall descent,” Ginn said.

For avid paddlers in Maine, the films offer a glimpse of water adventure in places most people never get to experience firsthand.

Maybe the scenes from “Terra Antarctica” will inspire some locals to plan an expedition to the ice-laden continent. More likely, it will renew viewers’ appreciation for Maine’s own glacier-free paddling.

Proceeds from the film festival benefit the Maine Island Trail Association and Northern Forest Canoe Trail. It’s thanks to MITA’s efforts that Maine paddlers can enjoy the water trails and islands off the state’s coast. NFCT helps maintain 740 miles of water trails in two countries and four states, including Maine.

Even occasional paddlers can appreciate those efforts. And after watching this year’s festival films, “occasional paddlers” might find themselves inspired to become “kayak adventurers.”

Non-paddlers are welcome at the festival as well, to kayak vicariously and perhaps to have their inner paddler lured to the water.

Festival door prizes include five gift certificates to L.L. Bean’s Discovery School in Freeport; a gift certificate to Nomads, a Portland store that sells adventure and active wear; water bottles and T-shirts.

Shannon Bryan can be reached at 822-4056 or at:

[email protected]


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