A presentation on Westwater Canyon geology will be given Saturday as part of the Moab River Rendezvous Symposium held at Star Hall.

In 1938, a French trio of two men and one woman kayaked the Green River from Wyoming to Lee’s Ferry along the Colorado River in northern Arizona ― a remarkable feat for that era, and one that the group filmed. A preview of a new documentary about the expedition, featuring original footage of the French film, will be shown at the sixth annual Historic River Film Festival on Saturday, Nov. 1.

“Only a handful of river runners were rafting at that time,” said Michael Dean Smith, president of Moab River Rendezvous and founder of Plateau Restoration, a nonprofit dedicated to education and restoration of the Colorado Plateau. “Most of the river industry popped up after World War II. It’s an incredible story; quite an accomplishment.”

The trip lasted weeks, and the group had to stop and resupply along the way, Smith said.

Filmmaker Ian McCluskey became interested in the story while visiting a national historic site in Wyoming where he read about the French explorers. Seeking more information, McCluskey contacted Roy Webb, multi-media archivist for special collections at the University of Utah. Webb is also a board member of Plateau Restoration, the organization hosting the film festival.

Webb, coincidentally, had stumbled upon the story while working on his book, “If We Had a Boat,” and was able to help McCluskey. Webb learned that the group had kept journals and had filmed their experience. He was able to track down their descendants in France, who gave Webb a copy of the original film.

“Then Ian, (founder of) Northwest Documentaries, contacted me,” Webb said. “Two years ago he put together this trip and re-created that journey.”

McCluskey’s group was comprised of himself, plus Paula and Kate Kuthe. Webb accompanied the team for some of the journey. In making the film, McCluskey also talked to the descendants of Antoine de Seynes and Bernard and Genevieve de Colmont, the French kayakers.

Earlier on Saturday is the premiere of Cody Perry’s documentary, “Rig to Flip,” about the evolution of Warm Springs Rapid on the Yampa River.

“It’s one of the most well-known, major rapids in the southwest,” Smith said. “I’ve seen excerpts (of the film). It’s great.”

Warm Springs changed from being a little ripple to a huge rapid on June 10, 1965, after a huge thunderstorm came east over Utah, Webb said. A river party witnessed the phenomenon, and another group lost its boatman when he was tossed out of the boat and drowned, Webb said.

Smith founded Plateau Restoration 20 years ago to protect and restore native habitats of the Colorado Plateau through hands-on research, education, re-vegetation, and restoration. He launched the Moab River Rendezvous six years ago to further educate the public about the region.

Moab has a rich history surrounding river running, said Smith, a rafting guide since 1976. The festival is for people who enjoy history, education, learning about native fish, geology and film-making, he said.

Also on Saturday, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources will give a presentation on the native fish recovery program. Additionally, Colorado Mesa University professor Andres Aslan will give a talk about the geology of Westwater Canyon.

Those who purchase an all-day ticket for $30 may attend a social from 5-7 p.m. with presenters and filmmakers. Hors d’oeuvres will be served and a cash bar will be available. Or, people can attend any single educational event for $5. All presentations take place at Star Hall, 159 E. Center St.

The day’s events also include a silent auction to benefit Plateau Restoration.

“Alternative Spring Break” is a major Plateau Restoration program where students from across the nation, as well as Europe and Asia, help restore wildlife habitat areas. The group works in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the State of Utah.

One of their sites, 67 acres near the Potash boat ramp, had no wildlife when the Plateau Restoration began work on the area, Smith said.

“Now there are 30 different bird species. There is also mule deer, fox, coyote, skunk, beaver, and even desert bighorn sheep,” Smith said. “It’s been a great thing to watch it change.”

The University of Utah, the local rafting company, Canyon Voyagers, and Northwest River Supply are huge supporters of Plateau Restoration, Smith said.

Presented by Plateau Restoration, documentaries depict local river history

What: Moab River Rendezvous Symposium Social and Film Festival

When: Saturday, Nov. 1

1:30-5 p.m. Expert presentations by filmmaker Cody Perry; Utah Division of Wildlife Resources; and Colorado Mesa University professor Andres Aslan

5-7 p.m. Social with presenters and filmmakers

7-9 p.m. Preview of documentary film by Ian McCluskey about the 1938 journey of three French citizens who kayaked the Green River from Wyoming to Lee’s Ferry along the Colorado River in northern Arizona.

Where: Star Hall, 159 E. Center St.

Cost: $30 for the entire day, including social hour. Or, $5 per presentation