review by Ray Schmidt

DVD Category: documentary/travel and first descents

Boat type: whitewater,kind of

    1 sucks and 5 is awesome.

  • Soundtrack – 4
  • Visuals – 5
  • Action – 2 …that’s the point!
  • Quality of production – 4
  • Clean edits – 3.5
  • Educational quality – 5
  • Overall – 4.5

Getting paid to paddle is pro whitewater kayaker Becky Bristow’s dream.
Her new video, A
Russian Wave, documents the realization of that very wish granted to her by
the Russian Government. The Slavic genie-in-a-bottle commissioned her and
fellow expedition paddler Dunbar Hardy to explore viable class III and IV
runs in the remote north-eastern Russian tundra for future tourism

On the ground, Bristow and Hardy quickly realize this isn’t the whitewater
adventure they quite dreamed of. The award winning film follows the pairs misguided search for
rapids from a rickety helicopter; their crew’s fishing side-trips as well as
portraying colourful caricatures of locals.

Viewers are passengers on this comedy of errors and catastrophe of
miscommunication. You realize that the journey is more invigorating and it becomes something more than your typical whitewater porn movie because
of its misalignment. Bristow’s shy, humble and bright-eyed narrative is
hilariously balanced by the over-the-top antics of her
partner Hardy.

Becky Bristow’s first documentary film is a
Banff Mountain Film Festival finalist , chosen to represent
the festival, touring25 different countries worldwide.

A Russian Wave could have easily dissipated on the cutting room floor if it
wasnt for Bristows keen sense of story and persistence with her video
camera. Where most whitewater filmmakers might have left their cameras in
the Pelican case, Bristow insisted on filming the entire experience not
just the whitewater.

And despite the lack of whitewater, the film is all about flow and going
with it. It rekindles our own travel memories when things didn’t go exactly
as planned and acts as a 30-minute breath of fresh air amongst the sometimes
stale atmosphere of whitewater videos.

Despite Bristow and Hardys failure to find viable adventure tourism in the
remote Russian region, A Russian Wave magnifies the virtues of the people,
landscape and culture. Were left yearning for Russian companionship, rusty
helicopter rides, fishing rods and maybe even a short float down some Class
II whitewater. The Russian Government ought to be pleased.

You can buy copies of A Russian Wave at

  • Waterwalkers Film Festival 2005 – Honourable Mention for Best Adventure Film
  • Waterwalkers Film Festival Tour 2005
  • Rossland Film Festival 2004 – Best Independent Film
  • Whistler Film Festival 2004- People’s Choice Award for short films
  • National Paddling Film Festival 2005 – Paddler’s Choice Award/Best of Amateur
  • Anchorage Inernational Film Festival 2004 – Top 7 finalists Documentary Films
  • Golden Film Festival 2005 – Nominated for the Golden Nugget Best Short Documentary Award
  • Wild and Scenic Film Festival 2004
  • Wild and Scenic Film Festival Tour 2005
  • Vancouver INternational Film Festival 2005
  • Dundee Film Festival 2004 in Scotland
  • Dawson City INternational Short Film Festival 2005