PORTLAND, Maine — Clark Gable would be proud.
At what organizers are calling the first-ever International Moustache Film Festival, folks aspiring to be the next Tom Selleck or Charlie Chaplin — at least in terms of facial hair styling — will get their moment in the spotlight.
Submissions are being accepted for the event, which will be held on March 30 at the Port City Music Hall as a kick-off to the Moustache Pageant, an annual rallying point for those proudly sporting the ’staches.
“They are definitely making a comeback, and I think in Maine, a lot of it has to do with the support of other men rocking moustaches,” said event organizer Nick Callanan of the Portland-based No Umbrella Media. “We try to support the guys whose wives or girlfriends say ‘No.’ We try to give them tips on how to make sure it’s not a moustache-death relationship.”
Among the benefits of keeping that stiff upper lip covered in hair, Callanan said, is that it’s the price of admission into the pageant — referred to colloquially as the “Stache Pag,” pronounced “paj,” by those in the know. Those not so endowed can buy VIP tickets to the event, with the proceeds benefiting Northeast Historic Film, Mystache Fights Cancer and the nonprofit arts group MENSK.
“Like any moustache, it’s going to start with a small sprout, but we’re hoping it grows into a big eye-tickling monstrosity,” Callanan said of the new film festival. “We’re getting very positive feedback. We’ve already got an excellent batch of films.”
To qualify, submitted films should be shorter than eight minutes and either feature moustachioed characters or have a moustache theme. Callanan said filmmakers should own the rights to the soundtracks used in the films, and initial submissions can be made by simply emailing an Internet link to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The best film of the bunch will earn a $100 cash prize, with other trophies to go to films named Best Stache Growth Story, Best Stache Shaving Story, Best Moustache Death Relationship Story, Best Fake Moustache Movie and Best Collection of Moustaches in One Film, among other accolades.
Callanan said organizers are working out the details to take the film collection “on the road” for exhibitions in other venues in Maine as well.
Dr. Lou Jacobs, director of the New England branch of the American Moustache Institute and one-time finalist for the organization’s Robert Goulet Moustached American of the Year Award, will serve as the host of the March 30 event.
“This is an important moment in moustache history,” Jacobs said. “Never has there been a film festival dedicated to the unique art of filming the mustached male — or female. The American Mustache Institute would like to congratulate the IMFF for it’s efforts to preserve the moustached arts.”
Callanan said he’s proud to highlight short films that highlight the signature facial hair of Gable and others, but he said preserving the “moustached arts” is only the beginning of what can be accomplished when moustache wearers get together and share ideas.
“It’s crazy how this moustache thing works,” he said. “It’s something that’s apolitical, it’s fun. Really, the Stache Pag’s contestants are going to save the world. … If we can make a film festival around this one thing, we’ve got much better odds of saving the world faster.”