The inaugural Shärt International Comedy Film Festival will live up to its international claim on April 6 at the Sturgeon Heights Community Centre. And there will be beer.
Organizers Dave Rabsch and Andrew Wall are delighted to have received submissions from places like Estonia, India, Japan, Australia, and Norway. They credit Withoutabox – an online submissions system for film festivals – for generating over 50 submissions, including one with Verne Troyer (Mini-Me from Austin Powers) and adult film star Ron Jeremy.
"The interesting thing is all these filmmakers, including those guys, said they just loved our philosophy, that this is a celebration of comedy," Wall said, adding about a dozen films made the cut.
Rabsch said the best part, so far, has been screening the submissions.
"There have been some where I’ve been just crying, like, tears coming out of my eyes crying with these films," he said, clarifying the tears were not sad ones.
Rabsch and Wall are cagey about identifying the festival’s patron and fellow screener, Ulysses W. Shärt, but anyone coming out will be able to meet him, they promise.
"He’s old Winnipeg money, you know, kind of on the down-low. He’ll be there… he’s like steel money, or iron money or something," Wall said.
"Eccentric. If you meet him, be prepared."
Besides eccentric patrons and film screenings there will be music by the George Reznik Jazz Trio and Hot Karl and the Steamers - an ‘80s band that counts CBC weatherman John Sauder as a member.
The music is part of wanting to set themselves apart from typical film festivals and create more of a social atmosphere.
"A lot of film festivals, unfortunately, kind of kill the atmosphere – kind of kill the experience – and it’s, you know, quiet, you sit in a theatre, everyone claps politely and everything dies by the credits. Ours will be anything but that, and there will be beer," said Wall.
All proceeds will be going to the Sturgeon Heights Community Centre, which just opened last year and will see its first liquor licence at the festival.
"Sturgeon Heights Community Centre is perfect for it. I think we wanted more of a community club feel as opposed to a formal theatre, and yeah, there’s beer," Wall clarified.
"It’s a beer-ocracy. You have to deal with it at some point," Rabsch advised.
The festival officially begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 6 with comedy workshops run by Lauren Ash (Second City) and Andrew Bush (Picnicface), followed by a free hour-long comedy discussion panel at 3:30 p.m.
The comedy workshops are priced separately from the evening music/films/beer session, with discounts for students and On Screen Manitoba members.
"It’s a really good opportunity for actors, comedians, writers - anyone who is interested in doing comedy in any shape or form. It’s a good chance to get wisdom," Wall said.
The night of music and screenings begins at 6 p.m. with a cocktail reception, and runs until some unspecified time after 11:30 p.m. when Hot Karl and the Steamers do a second set. Tickets are $15 and can be found online at shartfilmfestival.com