Vail-area paddlers in award-winning film ‘(People) of Water’ playing at Riverwalk Tuesday |

Vail-area paddlers in award-winning film ‘(People) of Water’ playing at Riverwalk Tuesday

The U.S. Men's Raft Team practices outrigger canoeing in Hawaii during the making of '(People) of water' in 2018.
Forest Woodward | Special to the Daily
Tuesday, June 18, 7 p.m.
Riverwalk Theater in Edwards
Purchase tickets at the theater or online at

The Riverwalk Theater is on a quest for adventure.

Adventure films, that is.

On Tuesday you can watch local paddler Robbie Prechtl’s journey from whitewater rafting workhorse to full-on waterman in “(People) of Water,” playing at the Riverwalk Theater at 7 p.m.

Prechtl and other members of the national champion whitewater rafting team will be on hand for a question-and-answer session following the film screening.

The film focuses on Prechtl but also features local paddlers John Mark Seelig, Jeremiah Williams, Matt Norfleet, Kurt Kincel, Seth Mason and others. It debuted in April at the 5Point Adventure Film Festival, where it received the festival’s award for creative excellence.

If you liked ‘Free Solo’

Riverwalk Theater owner Grant Smith purchased the theater in April 2018, and since then he has been trying to add community events and outdoor films to the theater’s more predictable runs of Hollywood films.

Last fall, the theater showed “Free Solo,” the Oscar-winning documentary about Alex Honnold’s quest to climb El Capitan with no ropes or harness.

Seelig said he was excited to see that movie playing at the local theater.

“With ‘Free Solo,’ I think people are a little more aware of some of these adventure films that are coming out,” Seelig said. “It’s great to see (Riverwalk Theater) be more involved, and get these films more exposure.”

Smith said “Free Solo” was a hit in Edwards.

“That did tremendously well for us,” Smith said. “And it was a different kind of movie than we had shown before.”

In pre-screening “(People) of Water,” Smith said that he thinks the same audience will enjoy it.
“We live in a community that’s interested in these types of stories,” Smith said.

‘More to the story’

In addition to Prechtl’s journey, the film also tells the story of the team as a whole as they attempt to broaden their paddling skills by learning the art of outrigger canoeing from Hawaiian legend Johnny Puakea and his father, a man known as Uncle Bobby. The team enters the Na Pali Challenge in Kauai, a legendary outrigger canoeing race.

Before “(People) of Water,” attendees will get to see two more short films from the filmmakers of Gnarly Bay — “The Time Travelers,” which also features the U.S. whitewater rafting team, and “The Important Places,” a nine-minute piece that first piqued the rafting team’s interest in adventure film.

In Gnarly Bay films, “There’s more to the story than just the high adventure,” Seelig said. “There’s the lives and the people and how they got to that point.”

Dan Riordan, with Gnarly Bay, said both “The Time Travelers” and “(People) of water” were centered around boats racing through water, but they ended up telling different stories.

“The Time Travelers was about a speed record, but ultimately the film didn’t turn out to be about a speed record, it turned out to be about doing the thing – setting these pursuits for yourself,” Riordan said. “And then (“(People) of water”) is not about this race in Kauai, it’s about connecting across cultures and learning from people along the way.”

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