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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 April, 2004, 10:40 GMT 11:40 UK
Drive-in cinema is Norway's coolest
By Lars Bevanger
in Kautokeino, Norway

Snow cinema (Photo: Kenneth Haetta)
The cinema is 450km north of the Arctic Circle
The new cinema in the Norwegian town of Kautokeino is somewhat out of the ordinary. Not only is it entirely made out of snow - it is a drive-in. For snow mobiles.

"We always wanted to create a different film experience," explains Anne Lajla Utsi, the leader of the Kautokeino Sami film festival.

"As far as we know, this is a world first."

She told BBC News Online the idea of an outdoor winter cinema has been around for a few years.

"This year we had the opportunity to make it real, during the film festival here."

Snow cinema (Photo: Kenneth Haetta)
Temperatures rarely rise above freezing after nightfall
While spring has come to much of Norway, there is no lack of snow in Kautokeino, 450km north of the Arctic Circle.

Ms Utsi says one of the ideas behind the cinema was to use the natural resources of the area to create a cultural institution with a difference.

"The entire cinema is made from snow. We've built a snow amphitheatre, with reindeer skins to sit on, and the actual screen is also made from snow."

Kautokeino is a mainly Sami town. The Samis are Norway's indigenous people, many of them reindeer farmers.

While they traditionally herded their flocks using cross-country skis, the snow mobile is now an indispensable mode of transport for them.

Snow cinema (Photo: Kenneth Haetta)
Film-goers can watch the films under a full moon
But it is also the winter vehicle of choice for most people in this part of Norway. So for the organisers of the Sami film festival it was natural that an outdoor cinema should also have space for those who wanted a drive-in experience.

"There are almost as many snow mobiles here as there are people. That's why we wanted to give audiences the chance to drive straight down from the mountains into a film experience, so to speak" says Ms Utsi.

During the film festival, snow mobile riders are treated to a programme of documentaries and short films, but also feature length movies.

"Each night we have a late show with thrillers, which create a very special atmosphere under the arctic night sky," Ms Utsi says.

Snowmobilers watching movie (Photo: Kenneth Haetta)
The cinema shows a late-night menu of thrillers
Anyone who wants to enjoy two hours under the stars in the high Arctic north of Norway, need to dress warmly though.

Temperatures here rarely rise above freezing after nightfall this time of year. But Ms Utsi is confident people enjoy themselves, despite the sub-zero temperatures.

"This is a fantastic experience. You have a full moon, the very special Artic light, and you can hardly see where the cinema ends and the artic wilderness begins," audience member Per Ivar Jensen said.

Snow cinema (Photo: Kenneth Haetta)
The audience wrapped up well for the occasion
"There is a lavvo [Sami tent] camp around the theatre, where people can buy hot drinks," Ms Utsi added.

And since traditional cinema snacks like ice cream would not quite fit in with the general surroundings, a local snack can be bought to enjoy with your film - dried reindeer meat.

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