preview by Ivet Koleva

Experience an unforgettable moment of winter magic. Edmonton’s local International Festival of Winter Cinema (IFWC) installation brings storytelling together with a season of coziness and joy.

The Festival’s new and official dates have been selected, set to “hit lights, camera and action” from March 9th to the 13th at the Courtyard at Community Arts Laboratory (CO*LAB), in Edmonton’s The Quarters district. .

This Festival is an event that aims to bring a smile to all, and what better place to showcase the beauty of winter than Edmonton – a city that usually has many residents going out to enjoy winter activities and snow themed events! The yearly mission of the Festival will hit close to home for many. It is to display the uniqueness of Canada through themes of snow and ice, as well as to educate and showcase the beauty of Indigenous culture. Viewers can expect to see the films joyfully showing off these element, so that they can smile and forget the weight of missing out on a large amount of winter activities due to COVID-19.

IFWC is happy to announce that they don’t have to postpone or shift on-line because of the pandemic. They will be taking many precautions in order to keep movie-goers safe, while not eliminating elements of what makes this Festival special. This year, the Festival will be maintaining a physically-distanced outdoor setting in downtown, with 10 spaces available for each entry group for every movie offered.

There are two ticket types, one for the sitting area ( $10) and one for the standing area ($5). The ticket type also has a time difference, the sitting area being  a 1-hour slot and the standing area a 30-minute slot. Masks are mandatory at all times, and social distancing is required.

If you need to wait for your entry and timed booking to start, there will be the chance to have your photograph taken by on-site photographers, as well as warm drinks and a silent auction featuring many secret prizes (some of them will be winter-themed!).

The Festival will feature the works of many local and national talents – there are 51 films to choose from! This year, the IFWC has received multiple submissions from international filmmakers, with films from France, Belgium, Norway, Australia, United States, Switzerland and Iran. All of these films have been carefully selected by IFWC. They are all films that have a lot of soul, heart, and feel-good memories crafted into them.

I can assure you that all of these works deserve your time and dollars, but I also acknowledge that it can be tricky to know where to start. I had the privilege of being able to see some of these films myself, and this allows me to offer you an idea of ones to look out for that will make a lasting impression.

The following films are all different in duration, so whether you can only stop by the Festival for an hour or even ten minutes, there will be a film ready to accommodate you, while also giving you a smile!

Sovereign Soil (Canada)

We will start with the longest film in the entire IFWC installation event, Sovereign Soil. This Canada-based, 52-minute duration documentary illustrates the beauty of a ferocious winter in the sub-Arctic town of Dawson City, Yukon.

This film uses up the allotted time if you have a sitting area ticket, but it is a work that is simply unforgettable and a must-watch experience. The beautifully coloured, aerial footage of the winter landscape – which ranges from pine trees glittering with frost to snow-capped mountains – will leave you in awe and admiration. Alongside, there is a thoughtful voiceover from the residents of Dawson city that, besides giving us an insight into the history of the wise, humble crafted lifestyle of the town, urges us to reconnect with nature and our roots.

Viewers will find a gentleness in Sovereign Soil. This film is ready to soothe your heart and it reminds you of the aspects that are truly worth appreciating in life – no matter how hard things may get.

Melted Hearts (Canada)

Perhaps you only have limited time in the evening to spare? Then look out for this one!

Melted Hearts is a quick stop-motion animation that is approximately 3 minutes in duration. This film will undoubtedly hit the heartstrings of many Edmontonians for its light-hearted, playful nature, and it reflects local artistic talent. The creator of this film, Cole Stevenson, is an Edmontonian himself, currently studying at the University of Alberta’s Computer Science program, with plans to pursue a career in animation.

Audiences can expect a lot of awe and smiles, as they watch a snowman, who is tired of being lonely, make a friend. The two snowmen form a friendship throughout the entire winter season, by creating memories together with snowball fights, snow angels and even skating. Even though the season will eventually end, the memories they make will last them a lifetime – and even as the snow melts and warmer months come back to Edmonton city, the IFWC hopes that the memories and smiles you make during this season will always stay with you.

From Switzerland With Love (Switzerland)

Wanting to see what kind of cinema is being offered from across the globe? Check out From Switzerland With Love, a 30-minute documentary by Titouan Bessire and Laurent De Martin.

If you’re missing the winter activities this year due to the pandemic, this film is ready to satisfy your adventurous wishes. Viewers will join Laurent De Martin, who invites skiers from different countries to spend time with him and enjoy the possibilities of backcountry skiing. The footage ranges from wide to close ups as everyone grabs their skis and snowboards, fearlessly doing tricks around the winter landscape of Switzerland (more specifically, the Dents du Midi region).

While audiences will already appreciate the tricks the skiers have up their sleeves, there’s a lot more to come! The footage switches to snow-capped mountains just waiting to be explored, and Laurent De Martin and his team do not disappoint. My eyes were glued to the screen each time the skiers went down the mountain, doing flips and twirls in the air – the camera captures the snow dancing around their forms as they leave their mark on the mountain.

From Switzerland With Love is ready to calm the cravings of any missed-out winter activities with lots of impressive stunts, laughs and friendships among skiers. Look out for this one, because it’s ready to absorb you into a journey!

I highly encourage you to check out the Festival through the official IFWC website. The links can be found below, alongside social media handles that are continuously updated with information and photos as the Festival gets underway!

International Festival of Winter Cinema
9641 102A Ave NW, Edmonton