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A screen made out of snow is under construction for an all-winter film festival at Hawrelak Park that starts Friday. Feb. 5, 2020. (CTV News Edmonton)

A giant outdoor movie screen is under construction in Hawrelak Park for the International Festival of Winter Cinema.

"We’re actually the world’s only completely free outdoor all winter film festival," said festival director Bar Lavy.

The screen, which will be 12 feet high and 16 feet wide, is built in sections and takes about a week to complete.

"It typically takes about five to six buckets of snow for each four foot level that we have," Lavy said. "In order to have it be a structurally sound screen we need the ice to get packed down quite nicely and we need it to solidify before we can do the next bit.”

He said the festival often gets asked why snow is used for the giant screen instead of ice.

"Ice is more reflective than the snow and it doesn’t project quite as nicely because the projection just bounces off as opposed to absorbed by the white," he said.

Daren Skinner decided to help with construction on Wednesday.

"I think it’s classic Edmonton, you can come out here and freeze as much as you want and see some good movies on a big screen you could only really make in Edmonton," he said. "I’m glad to just have the opportunity to say I did, it’s a fun experience.”

The festival is in its third year. This year, about 100 films were submitted and 31 of the best have been selected to be shown on the snow screen.

"They deal with winter in some kind of form, beyond that we also accept local submissions that are Edmonton-made and those ones don’t have to be winter films," said Lavy.

And 25 per cent of the films are made by Indigenous artists.

"We’re really big on our Canadian cultural heritage and this is a really nice way where we get to A, showcase that and B, help the Indigenous artists get some screen time," Lavy said.

The festival starts on Friday and Lavy said watching the films projected on the snow makes for a unique experience.

"We have a lot of films that contain a lot of snow, and so seeing a film that has snow projected on the snow adds a very realistic texture to the whole thing and it makes for a very surreal experience."