This is Canoeing is the next DVD in a growing list of award winning films by Justine Curgenven who is best known for her groundbreaking sea kayaking, “This is the Sea” series. Justine was one of the first to really show what a sea kayak could do and bring that footage to the masses.
With her newest film This is Canoeing, Justine steps out of her kayak and into a canoe with the goal of celebrating the many versatile uses is this fantastic watercraft. Running over three and a half hours; the 2 DVD set can be more described as 12 short films highlighting different people or different styles of paddling. Included in the film is Kevin Callan, Becky Mason, Paul Mason, Mark Scriver, Andrew Westwood, Karen Knight, Bob Foote and Wendy Grater.
Like her sea kayaking films, This is Canoeing was shot in many exotic places including Northern Canada, the United States, Scotland & Wales.
I will be honest with you, I really wanted to love this movie but I just couldn’t. Don’t get me wrong; I liked the move a lot, I just didn’t love it. It’s thoroughly entertaining with some great whitewater action and very funny interviews throughout but I just found that it was missing something that I still find difficult to put my finger on.
Technically the film is very good. The whitewater cinematography throughout was nicely put together and isn’t as jumpy as other adventure films out there. You can clearly see Justine’s expertise in camera positioning to get the best shot in the canoe and the edited combination of deck and helmet mounted cameras brought me smack in the middle of the boat with them.
Watching the short films, I sometimes got the feeling that the production came across as rushed and maybe not as well researched as it could be beforehand to tease out a good adventure story along the way. A good example is the when they paddle Rannoch Moor in Scotland. That film has all the makings of a great story including whitewater (even a canoe pinned in the rocks), three days of camping, several dam portages and leisurely sailing. But even with these elements, the piece comes across more like a trip report rather than an adventure. It’s a shame. Scotland looks like a fantastic place to paddle and Justine trip partners seem to be really fun people that I would love to go out with myself.
Don’t get me wrong though; there are plenty of great highlights that more then make up for the weaker points.
For example, the short film with Scott MacGregor and his 4-year old son, Dougie paddling down the Petawawa river in late October is the most interesting film to me. It’s a super inspirational family camping story that makes me want to drop everything, load the kids up and paddle down a river today.
Here is a video snippet of, "Dougie Down the Pet".
Make sure you also watch Karen Knight and Bob Foote’s film on Freestyle Canoeing. When I first started watching it, I thought it was the dorkiest thing I have ever seen but by the end I was starting to see the beauty of it all. Karen’s ability to make the canoe dance across the water with hardly any movement is amazing.
Final verdict? A couple of weak points but it’s fun to watch and overall quite inspirational. It makes me want to get back out in a canoeing again and for those who know me; that’s a pretty high complement.
David Johnston has been introducing people to the sport of sea kayaking for the past 15 years. He is a senior instructor trainer with Paddle Canada and teaches for several paddling schools in Ontario, Canada. Full Bio.