Guest Speakers

Anniol Serrasolses | Mikel Sarasola | Todd Wells | Jeff Springer | Paige Swift

Spanish kayaker Aniol Serrasolses enjoys being lost in nature, having a great time with his friends and pushing the limits of the sport he loves.

Aniol Serrasolses is a kayak adventurer from Sort, in the Catalonia region of Spain. He got his start in paddling thanks to his brother, Gerd, who one day took him along to his town’s club, the Salt-ter. From that moment on he was hooked.

But paddling alone just didn’t cut it for Aniol. He was fed up of living in a place with no whitewater and barely any chance to kayak, so he moved across Catalonia to Sort, a popular whitewater spot where he started working as a river guide.

In the winter of 2009, Aniol was lucky enough to travel to Chile and Argentina for five months. “That was a very intense trip where we had many different experiences,” he says. “We paddled in incredible streams, met lots of people and got to know a very different culture.”

Since then Aniol has made a big impact on the kayaking world, with his achievements including completing the first descent of Keyhole Falls, Canada, in 2014, and winning prestigious events around the world, such as Sickline Austria in 2016, the USA’s North Fork Championship in 2017 and Futalefu XL in Chile in 2020.

No matter where he is, Aniol never loses sight of the things that matter to him: to travel a lot, meet lots of new people, produce great kayaking footage and, most of all, enjoy riding and being happy with what he does.

“I love my life,” he says. “I wouldn’t change anything about it and I want to keep kayaking, travelling and documenting what we do for many more years!”

Mikel Sarasola is a whitewater kayaker, filmmaker and photographer. He started as a slalom athlete and became Spanish champion and was a Spanish team member for years, but he got bored with the slalom lifestyle and decided to trade in his carbon boat for a plastic one and head off around the world in search of stimulating challenges and new experiences. Spurred on by his curiosity and the fact that he is a natural dreamer, as well as his tireless paddling, the journey has taken him to explore places as remote and evocative as Greenland, Pakistan, Peru, Patagonia and Nepal, where between other runs he also scored many first descents. Always in search of difficulty, of an unknown and wild river, of turbulent waters to descend and explore; but also of new and extreme challenges, like the descent into the Humla Karnali AKA Shiva’s Gorge. Mikel turns dreams into expeditions and has a penchant for storytelling and capturing breathtaking images.

His first film was CAMINOS DE AGUA (2014) about a mix of whitewater and seakayaking expedition in Patagonia. Then came HUMLA, a movie about expedition kayaking in Nepal, and The Tears of Shiva is his latest work, and his first film in English.

Mikel has also won this year’s Kayak Session Short Film of the Year Award with his film ONE AND NO MORE.


Todd Wells is a proud Pacific Northwest local with an obsession for exploratory whitewater kayaking. When Todd’s not at home paddling the Little White or White Salmon rivers (his backyard favorites), you’re likely to find him pioneering un-run rivers in Alaska, paddling classic Patagonian big water, or off on a wild adventure somewhere in-between.

A National Geographic Young Explorer, Todd has written for Kayak Session, Bomb Flow, Canoe & Kayak, National Geographic Explorer and NRS’s Duct Tape Diaries. Over the years, Todd has been involved with several video production companies like Mountain Mind Media, and Love Boat Creative. He has produced films like Zamora & For the Love. His videos have been featured through Red Bull Media House, National Geographic, and Outside TV. You can find “For the Love” available on iTunes and Vimeo, and “Zamora” through NRS films. You can also watch his latest adventure “The Tears of Shiva” at our festival this year!

Paige Swift has worked in film and television production for over 20 years.  Upon graduating the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism with a degree in Radio/Film/Television Production, she worked for corporate production houses and freelanced with Advanced Field Production in Atlanta. After time spent raising three children, exploring a retail business, repping commissions for Portraits, Inc., and fundraising in the nonprofit sector, her role in producing The Wintering Grounds documentary brings her back to what she loves doing most.


Jeff Springer is an Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaker who has worked with PBS, NBC, The Economist, Sony Pictures, SundanceTV, Lucasfilm, as well as brands such as Nike and Microsoft. His last feature documentary Rodents of Unusual Size, about giant swamp rats invading coastal Louisiana, showed at over 100 film festivals, is rated 98% by Rotten Tomatoes, and was broadcast nationally through Independent Lens on PBS.  He has lived in Afghanistan, Russia, London, Berlin, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and is now based in New York, although Columbus, Georgia is almost a second home. Check out Jeff on IMDB

For nearly four decades, the National Paddling Film Festival and the volunteers of the Bluegrass Wildwater Association have been hosting an annual competition to determine the best in paddlesport film and still image. From the start, we’ve had one simple mission: donate as much money as possible to support American Whitewater and other river conservation efforts. Since 1983, our team of volunteers have raised over $180,000 organizations dedicated to river conservation and access.