Medieval Dark Comedy, “Life is No Joke,” Selected by Oscar Boosting LA Short Film Fest

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Israeli writer/director Yair Shvartz lights up the screen with a short film about the tribulations of a court jester facing the biggest performance of his life.

Humor is the most important part of life. The court jester, having a crisis, not knowing what’s funny – is a great paradox, but it’s also a very real part of life.

Imagine a breathtaking 12th century castle dominating the peaceful countryside. Nobody is in their straw thatched homes. Everyone, from the simplest of peasant to the exalted nobility, has left their homes to watch court jesters from all over the kingdom challenging themselves in a competition that will decide their fate. Either live forever through the legacy of greatness, or die miserably, forgotten and alone. This is the dilemma that the main protagonist of “Life is no Joke” is facing when viewers first meet him, deep in the bowels of a rotting dungeon. He’s next in line to perform, and not feeling too inspired.

This is how the short film, by Israeli writer/director Yair Shvartz, kicks off. It’s a dark comedy that focuses on the anxious moments of self-doubt experienced by Erwin, a frightened jester, right before takes the stage. In the most important performance of his life, his audience includes a ruthless king who punishes bad performers with a swift death. The fatal possibility causes the jester to question his understanding of humor and inevitably finds himself falling into a badly timed existential crisis.

Life is No Joke” is an imaginative representation of the many realistic problems artists must combat before taking their work in front of others to be judged. Erwin speaks about creative insecurity by questioning his overall purpose. Why is it that he been brought to the world to make people laugh if he only can see the worst in it? Is he compelled by faith in his talent? The fear of failure? Or does he believe that he’s destined for greatness? These are themes that Yair Shvartz explores with his own brand of comedy.

“Humor is the most important part of life. The court jester, having a crisis, not knowing what’s funny – is a great paradox, but it’s also a very real part of life. People have insecurities all the time and it’s normal to doubt yourself, especially when you are an artist. This is something that I’ve gone through myself,” comments writer/director Yair Shvartz.

“Life is No Joke” has been selected for official competition at LA Shorts Fest, which is a film festival that specializes in showcasing the best short films from around the world. Officially recognized by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, LA Shorts Fest is the only festival with 7 awards recognized by the Academy for pre-selection eligibility, which makes it highly desirable for Oscar contenders. In the past years, 44 films screened in LA Shorts Fest have received Oscar nominations and 14 went on to win the coveted accolade.

“Life is No Joke” was shot in 35mm, inside the impressive Castello di Amorosa, a replica of a medieval castle in the heart of Napa Valley, which currently functions as a winery. The project has been backed by Panavision’s New Filmmaker Program and has received a grant from Fotokem, both programs of established industry vendors who focus on cultivating up and coming talent.

“It was a dream to shoot in in such a stunning location. We all felt transported to the Middle Ages when we were shooting, and it definitely transpired into the film. We wanted to be faithful to medieval aesthetic so we mainly used candlelight, but we also added some surprises that I’m sure the audience will enjoy,” says Álvaro Fernández, the producer of “Life is No Joke.”

Erwin is portrayed by Napoleon Ryan, who also starred in the internationally acclaimed short film “The Black Hole.” Peggy, the maid, is played by Emmy winner Maile Flanagan who is known for her voiceover work of the famous Naruto anime character.

Shvartz and Fernandez will continue their collaboration on two feature-length projects. One is titled “Worried Minds,” which is a family road-trip drama that tackles Alzheimer’s disease with Academy Award nominee Elliot Gould. The other is “Bert’s Plan,” a dark comedy about a downtrodden writer starring Dave Rosner, which is based on a previous award-winning short film by Shvartz.

“Life is No Joke” will be screening September 9th at 10pm at the Laemmle NoHo 7 theaters. This is the world premiere of the short film and the first stop in the award season run that kicks off this month.

YAIR SHVARTZ (director)
+1 (646) 525 - 1358

+1 (347) 475 – 9357 (USA)
+34.647.446.939 (SPAIN)

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Yair Shvartz (director)
Worried Minds LLC
+1 (646) 525-1358
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Álvaro Fernández (producer)
Worried Minds LLC
+1 (347) 475 – 9357 (USA) +34.647.446.939 (SPAIN)
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