Robert  Perkins

Robert Perkins has been making documentary films since 1987. He learned "on the job" when he made his first doc with a Super 8 camera and 110 rolls of film during a seventy-two day solo canoe journey in the Canadian arctic. Since the success of his first award winning film (Into the Great Solitude) on PBS and in England on Channel 4, he has made seven more documentaries in the vein of "Environmental Storytelling." A trilogy of three films was aired on PBS under the title of One Man's Journey.

 
Robert Perkins has pushed the envelope of the documentary/essay film, creating works that are both searingly and engagingly personable.
— Philip Lopate, New York Film critic
 
Robert Perkins is the Lou Reed of documentary film.
— Richard Horan, author and critic
 

Films

One Man's Journey. WGBH/Boston is pleased to present ONE MAN'S JOURNEY, a three-part series about naturalist and explorer Robert Perkins as he paddles his canoe into the Canadian Arctic and down the Limpopo River in Southern Africa. His films chronicle his personal and geographic journeys as he explores and discovers new terrain with new insight. These three films cover the span of Perkins' life: as a young man creating his own identity on a long, solo canoe trip; as a middle-aged man, he and the woman he loves struggling to survive her breast cancer; and as a wiser man connecting more deeply with others through his African Journey.

 

PREVIEW — Into the Great Solitude

Into the Great Solitude, shot in 1987, this now classic outdoor adventure film tells the story of Robert Perkins’ seventy-two day solo canoe journey in the Canadian Arctic. Perkins not only takes on arduous physical challenges, but he lyrically describes in film and language how the journey helps him make peace with a difficult father.

Winner of many major awards, his best-known work provides a captivating look at Perkins as a young man willing to take on the challenges of the Canadian Arctic on a long solo canoe trip. Battling rapids and black flies, while dancing with his own demons and his shadow, Perkins explores what it means to survive in the stark beauty of the Canadian tundra. Perkins not only takes on arduous physical challenges, but he lyrically describes in film and language how the journey helps him make peace with a difficult father.

"Robert Perkins has pushed the envelope of the documentary/essay film, creating works that are both searingly honest and engagingly personable." — Phillip Lopate, New York film critic
 

Talking to Angels, Robert Perkins and Irene Goodale’s story as they face, and learn to live with her breast cancer. Robert Perkins’ universally-praised memoir that examines what sustains the human spirit in the face of adversity.

 

PREVIEW — The Crocodile River

The Crocodile River, 2004 Best of Festival at the Waterwalker Film Festival in Toronto in 2004. Shot in 2002 in Southern Africa, this insightful film captures Perkins and his canoeing partner, Bonus Lunga, traveling 1,000 miles down the Kipling's fabled Limpopo River. Robert Perkins becomes the curious elephant child. As they encounter political and economic suffering, each man is challenged to face their stereotypes and assumptions about Africa, and Africans. The result a remarkable story about friendship, and the joy of discovery, set in a landscape of great beauty and hardship.

The Crocodile River explores how crossing international borders and emotional boundaries enables two people of vastly different cultures - one American and one African - to find common ground. The film begins when Perkins embarks on a ten-week exploration of the Limpopo River in southern Africa with Bonus Lunga, a Zimbabwean man who had never left his small village on the shores of Lake Cariba. Perkins' initial goal is to investigate the Africa behind the headlines, but he soon finds himself challenging his own assumptions and stereotypes about Africans. Both travelers come to unique discoveries about the river, its region, its people and each other. The result is a remarkable tale of friendship and the discovery of joy, resilience, and human connection amidst political and economic suffering.

 

PREVIEW — Home Waters

Home Waters documents naturalist Robert Perkins' five-week journey down the length of the Connecticut River, from the Canadian border to Long Island Sound. Full of humor, adventure and insight, the one-hour film paints a stunning portrait of New England in autumn, and captures the spirit of the river, and the people who live, work and take pleasure on it.

 

 

 

PREVIEW — Yankee in Kamchatka

Yankee in Kamchatka, Kamchatka, Siberia - a remote land of stunning natural beauty. As Russia opens its doors, nature writer/adventurer Robert Perkins is the first American to enter this territory which has been kept strictly off-limits to all foreign travelers since World War II. With his host, Russian wildlife photographer Vasily Peskov, Perkins' remarkable adventure takes him canoeing on a precarious, log-jammed river; climbing to the top of an active volcano; cruising the jagged Pacific coastline, rich in marine wildlife; hiking the untouched Kronotsky wilderness preserve with its snow-clad mountains, bubbling craters, pristine lakes and waterfalls.

He meets Russians whose love for their culture and their land make them dedicated to preserving their traditions and the environment - from an architect who, despite threats from the authorities, is recreating a stately church in his village; to fishermen who resist a plan to dam their major salmon river; to a tribe of wandering Koryak reindeer herders, still living in the traditional ways of their ancestors. Beautifully filmed, Yankee In Kamchatka immerses the viewer in an extraordinary cross-cultural journey that brings to life a previously undocumented world.

“Breathtaking vistas and stirring adventures make this a wonderful choice for both and active canoeists and armchair travelers.” — Booklist
“Expertly condensed into 56 minutes of spectacular scenery and charming encounters with the Russians... Production values, photography, and editing are uniformly excellent.” — Library Journal
“A fascinating and eye-opening look at an unusual subject...the informal narrative style and technical excellence make this film a winner.” — American Film & Video Festival
“Excellent and unusual documentary. Highly recommended. Editor's Choice.” — Video Librarian
“This is a sharply lensed, well-produced video replete with telling details.” — Wilson Library Bulletin
 

PREVIEW — Looking for John Muir

Looking for John Muir, Robert Perkins retraces the steps of 19th century Scottish naturalist John Muir, who walked through one thousand miles of the American South in 1867. Perkins takes to the road to provide a personal assessment of how the Southern landscape has changed since Muir's time and examines some of the environmental damage in the region.

"Robert Perkins has pushed the envelope of the documentary/essay film, creating works that are both searingly honest and engagingly personable." —Phillip Lopate, Filmmaker
"Robert Perkins is the Lou Reed of documentary film making.” —Richard Horan, Author & Critic
 

PREVIEW - One Man In A Boat

One Man In A Boat, With whimsy and insight, Robert Perkins canoes from London to Scotland on the canals and rivers of Great Britain to deliver a letter to the head of his ancestral clan, Lord Nigel Forbes. The film is a moving portrait of a land and its people.

 

PREVIEW - Blind Bird Singing Rain

Blind Bird Singing Rain, Living in Utah, Robert Perkins canoes from his home in Virgin, UT to Mexico to investigate the lower Colorado River’s lack of water. He creates a poetic ode to water, examining  the futility of pretending we don’t have to change our ways. What he discovers at the end of his journey provides hope for the future.