Chill out: Outdoor winter film festival returns to Hawrelak Park

The wall of snow is ready. 

No, it’s not the final season of Game of Thrones. The third annual International Festival of Winter Cinema (IFWC) runs until Sunday at Hawrelak Park. The IFWC website bills it as the world’s only free outdoor all-winter film festival. 

Festival programmer, Adam Bentley, said he had the idea for years but a trip to the Reykjavik International Film Festival really got things going.

“They finally sent me a bunch of films I should definitely show,” he said. “I wasn’t even sure if there was a whole genre of winter films.”

Festival programmer Adam Bentley said he had the idea for the winter film festival for years. (Nathan Gross/CBC)

The movies will include winter shorts and features along with films from local and Indigenous directors. 

Many of the films would not be shown in Edmonton otherwise, according to Bentley. Some of the films have been touring the film festival circuit internationally. 

Prizes will be awarded for best winter film and best Canadian film, among others. There will also be a 24-hour filmmaking competition and panel discussions over the weekend.

“This is Edmonton’s very own winter theatre in the middle of a park,” Bentley said. “Where else can you just be cross-country skiing or hiking or snowshoeing and you come across an outdoor theatre?”

That ‘theatre’ includes benches with blankets and a heated tent. 

The screen, which was built over a few days using wooden forms and a front-end loader, is one of just a couple of snow screens that are built in North America every year according to Bentley. It stands 16 feet wide and about 12 feet tall. 

Bentley said they use a high-end projection system and the snow needs to be smooth to ensure white and grey colours show up properly. 

The International Festival of Winter Cinema is part of the Silverskate Festival which runs in Hawrelak Park until Sunday.

The third annual International Festival of Winter Cinema (IFWC) runs until Sunday at Hawrelak Park and features a special screen made of snow. 0:50

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