Today Bowdoin will embrace its cold climate through the arts when it hosts the seventh annual Maine Telemark Film Festival. This year's festival will feature four telemark films, raffle prizes and, of course, plenty of hot cocoa.

Associate Editor of the Bowdoin Magazine and producer of the festival Matt O'Donnell said the purpose of the event is to "promote telemark skiing, bring together a bunch of area freeheelers and start building the excitement for a new season of turns."

The festival began seven years ago when the director of the New England Telemark, a non-profit telemark organization and school, approached the BOC. At the time, BOC's telemark program was still in its infancy and looking to attract more students.

O'Donnell was excited about the idea because he thought the festival was a "good way to promote the BOC, the tele program and interact with the community." He added that BOC and New England Telemark "share the same goal of promoting telemark skiing and having fun outside in the winter."

In order to prepare for this year's event, O'Donnell worked with New England Telemark to find an event space, advertise and coordinate with Saddleback, Sugarloaf and Sunday River ski resorts to secure exciting raffle prizes. His most important job, however, was helping to choose the lineup of films featured in the festival.

The festival chooses each year's films by holding an amateur telemark film competition. Over the years, New England Telemark has received entries from avid telemark skiers all across the country and even in Europe. A panel of New England Telemark and BOC representatives then judges the entries and selects films for the festival. The audience ultimately picks the winner after watching all of the featured films.

This year's festival will present amateur films "The World's Greatest Tele Movie" and "Yardsale."

"The World's Greatest Tele Movie" comes from a group of amateur filmmakers from the Midwest called "Hairy Donuts." Their films have been very successful and even won the festival's amateur film competition in previous years.

Director of New England Telemark and a talented filmmaker Bill Higgison created "Yardsale." In the past, Higginson's films have included original scores and telemark songs.

In addition to the amateur telemark movies in the lineup, the festival will also feature two professional films. Perhaps the most anticipated of these films is "Flakes." Its creators debuted their first telemark film at the Bowdoin festival years ago and have since found tremendous success in the industry.

O'Donnell expects between 250 and 300 telemark fans to come together on Friday to celebrate the beginning of the ski season. He advocates this year's festival as a great place to "collectively fantasize about the crazy-deep snow the pro skiers rip."

The attendees of the festival are generally a mix of students, Bowdoin faculty and staff and local telemark fans.

There are "several tele skiers who come up from Portland every year for the fest and several who come down from the different ski areas," said O'Donnell.

Though Bowdoin telemark skiers and members of BOC play a huge role in putting on the festival, Woodruff said he would love to see more Bowdoin students submit films into the festival in future years.

The Maine Telemark Film Festival can be seen tonight at 7 p.m. in Kresge Auditorium. Admission is free.