Miss. River movie to screen Sunday

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 23, 2010

NATCHEZ — The Mississippi River brings out the characters, and Ryan Jeanes considers himself lucky to have met them.

Jeanes, along with friend Phillip Hullquist, completed a kayak trip down the Mississippi River, starting at the river’s headwaters in Minnesota and paddling until they reached the Gulf of Mexico, in 2009 and filmed the whole way down.

The pair stopped in Natchez in late September 2009, and will be back in town Sunday to screen their movie “The River is Life,” based on their encounters on the trip.

Email newsletter signup

The free screening is at 6:30 p.m. on Broadway Street behind the Natchez Grand Hotel. Broadway Street will be blocked off at Franklin Street for the showing.

Much of the movie will focus on the people Jeanes and Hullquist met along the way, telling those stories and capturing the unique personalities that call the Mississippi River home.

“What surprised me the most were the extraordinary people in everyday situations,” Jeanes said. “When people show their true selves, they become very attractive storytellers and great for film.”

The screening in Natchez is the last of 42 screenings along the river.

Before this adventure down the muddy Mississippi, Jeanes said neither he nor Hullquist had experienced the Mississippi. And neither were extremely experienced paddlers.

But they didn’t let those factors discourage their ambition.

The 94-minute film captures both the humorous and serious aspects of life along the river.

“It is one adventure, or misadventure is many cases, after another,” Jeanes said.

He said the pair stopped in Natchez and spent time with Natchezian Courtney Aldridge.

“In one sense Courtney is very humorous, and he had a lot of funny things to say,” Jeanes said. “But at the same time he has a very wise perspective on life.”

Jeanes doesn’t necessarily want everyone who watches the movie to set out on an adventure down the Mississippi River, but he said he hopes it will encourage people to dust off their own dreams.

“For me, there were a lot of very logical reasons to not make this trip, from the timing to just things that were going on in life,” Jeanes said. “But I knew the time was going to pass anyway, so I could either spend the three months paddling the Mississippi or spend it not paddling the Mississippi.”

And does he think he made the right choice?

“You fall in love with the river,” he said. “And people who watch it, I hope, will fall in love with the river for the first time or all over again.”