Pro kayaker and filmmaker Rafa Ortiz decides to follow his dream to paddle over Niagara Falls in “Chasing Niagara.

Frozen River Film Fest kicks off with water-themed films at the St. Mane Theatre in Lanesboro on Saturday, Feb. 11


Ninety-year-old ice skater Yvonne Dowlen is the subject of “Edges,” a short film by Katie Stjernholm and Jonathan Hiller.

In conjunction with the Smithsonian Water/Ways exhibition in Lanesboro through February 19, Lanesboro Arts will host two short documentary film events presented and curated by the Frozen River Film Festival at the St. Mane Theatre in Lanesboro on Saturday, February 11, 2017. “Chasing Niagara” begins at 4 p.m., while the “Aqua Adventure Film Set” will start at 7:30 p.m. The pair of screenings will kick off the 2017 Frozen River Film Festival. Film-goers are invited to experience the Water/Ways exhibition next door at the Commonweal Theatre, as public viewing hours will extend into the evening on February 11.

“Chasing Niagara” is a 75-minute documentary that follows pro kayaker Rafa Ortiz as he decides to follow his dream to paddle over Niagara Falls. Doing so, he sets in motion an incredible series of events that eventually takes on a life of its own. To prepare for this mission, Rafa enlists the help of world-renowned paddler and filmmaker Rush Sturges and a tight team of their friends. Together they go on a remarkable three-year journey from the rainforest rivers of Mexico to the towering waterfalls of the U.S. Northwest. “I wanted to make a film that was a big story,” Sturges said. “That was my goal from the beginning, but it certainly didn’t turn out like the story I set out to create, especially since I had a hero ending in mind.”

The “Aqua Adventure Film Set” is a 91-minute set of seven water-related, short-length films that will grab your attention and inspire action! Highlighting journeys and sports, as well as spiritual and cultural stories, while also demonstrating a certain level of stewardship, difficulty and/or adventure, these water-themed films are sure to activate both your body and mind. The films selected for this set include “Locked In – First Descent of the Beriman Gorge,” in which  Ben Stookesberry and a group of professional kayakers journey to the remote jungles of Papua New Guinea to conquer whitewater that no kayakers have navigated before; “Engler,” in which legendary fly fisherman and guide Mark Engler’s outdoor lifestyle cost him three wives and a younger guide he’s mentored, Les Vance, realizes that following in Engler’s footsteps means facing those same challenges; “Edges,” where the secret to recovery and longevity seem to lie not only in staying active, but simply in doing what you love. At the ripe age of 90, famous former Ice-Capades performer Yvonne Dowlen was still ice skating at least five days a week and competing in competitions. “The Rising Gaijins” is a film that follows five of New Zealands best skiers and snowboarders as they travel throughout Japan searching for the best back country zones. In “The Important Places,” filmmaker Forest Woodard and his father set off on a 28-day journey down the Colorado River, where, surrounded by towering canyon walls and powerful whitewater, Forest watches his father “not just alive, but living again.” In “Native Waters – Rio Grande,” the wild and scenic Rio Grande River is the lifeblood of New Mexico. But for Tesuque Pueblo member Louie Hena and his family, the river is more than an office, more than a provider, it is home. In “Milk & Honey,” for the people who work the fields, the Colorado River represents not only their livelihood, but a deep, spiritual connection as well. Enjoy this beautiful glimpse into the area’s Latino community and their humble connection to the strained Colorado River.

Tickets for each screening event are $7 or $5 for LA members (FRFF 2017 Big Muddy Pass will also be honored) and are available online at, at Lanesboro Arts Gallery by calling 507-467-2446 and at the St. Mane Theatre box office one hour prior to the screening on the evening of the event. The Frozen River Film Festival takes place from February 15-19, 2017, in Winona, and offers documentary films and programming that engage, educate and activate our community to become involved in the world.

The St. Mane Theatre is located at 206 Parkway Avenue North in Lanesboro. For more than 30 years, Lanesboro Arts has been working to fulfill its mission of serving as a regional catalyst for artistic excellence and educational development in providing diverse art experiences for people of all ages.


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