Man Who Ran World's Biggest Rapids Coming To Chattanooga

Monday, March 17, 2014

Steve Fisher, the kayaker who stared down the biggest rapids on Earth and lived to tell about it, will be sharing his story at the final day of the Lookout Wild Film Festival on Sunday.

Mr. Fisher is an internationally-known explorer and paddler, being named a National Geographic “Adventurer of the Year” in 2013 and an Outside magazine “Adventurer of the Year” in 2013.

His latest film “Congo: The Grand Inga Project” has taken home some major awards on the festival circuit, including “Best in Show” at the National Paddling Film Festival and “Best Film” at the X-Dance Film Festival, the world's premiere action sports film festival.


The film follows Mr. Fisher’s team down the Inga Rapids on the lower Congo River, a 50-mile section of waterfalls and kayak-eating whirlpools known to be the biggest on the planet.

“This is a river like no other, and these rapids were a big step more difficult than we’d anticipated,” said Mr. Fisher, recalling 20-foot breaking waves, deadly whirlpools, and basketball court-sized hydraulics. "We may have survived these rapids, but somehow we feel more humbled than proud.”

“Congo: The Grand Inga Project” and 33 other outdoor adventure and conservation films will be shown at the second annual Lookout Wild Film Festival March 21 to 23 at the Chattanooga Choo Choo Centennial Theatre. Film descriptions and full schedules are available at

Mr. Fisher, a South African native who recently moved to Asheville, N.C., just returned from an expedition on the Upper Nile River in Uganda. While in Tennessee, he will also be visiting Jackson Kayak in Sparta, Tn., to pick up some new customized boats. Jackson, along with Red Bull and many other top brands, sponsor Mr. Fisher’s expeditions.

The famed kayaker says he is looking forward to coming to Chattanooga. “The Chattanooga area is quite well know for waterfalls,” he said. “A lot of paddlers head over there any time it rains.” 

Lookout Wild Film Festival director Andy Johns said the festival is thrilled to host a true paddling pioneer. “We knew several months back there was a chance Steve might be able to make it, so it was a very hard secret to keep as we waited to see if he would be back from the Nile,” said Mr. Johns. “Steve embodies the wild spirit that LWFF is all about and we are excited the festival can help welcome him to the Southeast.”

The Tennessee Valley Canoe Club will host an After Party following the screening. 

Mr. Fisher joins five other filmmakers who will be in attendance at the festival. That list includes:

Louis Lee, “Outdoor Chattanooga” (showing Saturday Night)

Joe Davenport, “The Light in the Everglades” (showing Saturday afternoon)

Chris Stiles, “Landlocked” (showing Friday Night)

Jeremy Monroe, “A Deeper Creek” (showing Saturday Night)

Luke McMahon, “Caves: The Social Underground” (showing Saturday afternoon) 

"I'm really looking forward to being able to meet with the audience,” said Mr. Lee, a Chattanooga area filmmaker. “Often your film is shown on a screen miles away and you can't experience the audience's reaction to it. Not only will I be able to know immediately if my film is well I received, but I'll be able to talk with the crowd right there in the auditorium.”

Mr. Fisher, Mr. Lee and the other filmmakers will all be part of Q&A sessions during the festival and mingle with audience members at parties following the screenings.

The “Congo: The Grand Inga Project” trailer is available at

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