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From haunted houses to movie houses, we've got you covered

click to enlarge Timeraiser is one of the many events to check out this Fall.
  • Timeraiser is one of the many events to check out this Fall.

Canadian Surf Film Festival
Now celebrating its third year, the Canadian Surf Film Festival (September 27-30) showcases material designed to appeal to surfers and non-surfers alike.

"We program the festival for surfers or surf culture enthusiasts, but we also program it for the general public," explains development director and co-founder Keith Maddison. "We're well aware that the surf community is only so big in this part of the world, and we also believe that certain films are for everybody. These films are as much in line with non-surfers as they are with surfers."

With films focusing on the 2009 earthquake in Japan (We Are All Radioactive), man versus nature (A Deeper Shade of Blue) and day-in-the-life collaboration (Here and Now), Maddison says, "There's always these sub-themes that are specifically programmed so that [the festival] does appeal to a larger audience."

Local rocker Matt Mays won the Canada-wide Short Film Challenge at last year's festival for his Lawrencetown comedy Surfer's Road. In addition to the Short Film Challenge, a grand prize winner will see their entry compete at the London Surf Film Festival and at SMASH NYC.

The festival started after Maddison and some surf-minded friends got together and determined "the community was hungry for surf culture events. We thought as a group we had what it takes to put on an event like this."

Maddison, who spent five years as partnership and development manager at the Atlantic Film Festival, says his experience "was part of the reason we had all the skills to do this" and calls the AFF "a phenomenal mentor" for the CSFF team.

"We're recognized as one of the premiere surf film fests in the world after a few quick years, which is obviously something we're very happy about. We work very closely with some very key surf film fests from across the world," including the London Surf Film Festival, SMASH NYC and the San Sebastian Festival in Spain, which Maddison describes as "the godfather" of surf film festivals.

"I think it's the best program we've ever done," says Maddison. "It's very focused, very consistent. We have some really awesome films this year." --Kevin Hartford

Elisabeth de Mariaffi
How To Get Along With Women launch
October 4, Eyelevel Gallery, 6:30pm
Elisabeth de Mariaffi will be launching her first book, How To Get Along With Women, published by Halifax's Invisible Publishing. Each of her twelve fictional tales rope readers into the souls of females from all walks of life. Her prowess for observation and (what author Michael Winter calls) her "dead to cliche" style have created an intriguing anthology strewn with elements most would be too prudish to pen. De Mariaffi has had numerous short stories published in magazines across the country, she also writes poetry and is currently working on her first novel. One of her coolest claims to fame is being co-founder of Toronto Poetry Vendors, a poetry journal printed twice a year and dispersed via refurbished bubblegum machines set up around town. De Mariaffi's launch is free and open to all ages. --Michelle Brunet

Watch and learn
Though the Canadian Surf Film Festival marks the official end of film festival season in Halifax, there are still a few ways for cinephiles to get their fall movie fix.

Entering its third year of programming is Carbon Arc Cinema, an independent- and Canadian-minded film venue that recently moved from the Khyber to the Museum of Natural History, doubling its seating capacity and making its screenings wheelchair accessible. Carbon Arc's twice-a-week fall schedule runs throughout October and November, and promises to satisfy moviegoers with tastes just outside of the mainstream.

If you're wandering the halls of the World Trade and Convention Centre during Hal-Con 2012 in October (see sidebar for more), you'll have ample opportunity to take in a film or two: main stage screenings include Legend of Nethiah, a fantasy starring Stargate: Atlantis' Robert Picardo; horror comedy A Little Bit Zombie with Stephen McHattie and Lloyd the Conqueror, a comedy featuring Degrassi: The Next Generation's Evan Williams, along with other independent films and documentaries playing in smaller screening rooms.

There will also be Q&A sessions with Doctor Who's Nicholas Briggs, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's Rene Auberjonois, and Indiana Jones and Lord of the Rings vet John Rhys-Davies.

On October 13, Nocturne Halifax will feature a number of moving images---some projected onto a Barrington building, others onto a 90-foot barge floating in the harbour--- as well as the Atlantic Filmmakers Cooperative's installation My film is about the world and nature, which showcases the results of AFCOOP's Super-8 documentary filmmaking workshops for youths.

The night before Nocturne, Fusion Halifax's artsScene program will give aspiring auteurs a chance to compete in the Halifax 48 Hour Film Contest, with the top 10 entries getting a screening at Park Lane.

AFCOOP will also be accepting entries for its 2013 Halifax Independent Filmmakers Festival from now until February, so if nothing mentioned above interests you, pick up a camera and show the world how movies should be made. --KH

H-h-h-haunted!
I don't care how enlightened you think you are or how skeptical you consider yourself to be, there are certain things in this world that give us all the creeps. Plus sometimes it's fun as hell gettin' all scared like, you know? So hold your baby real close and read on to find out how you can get your fear fix over the coming weeks. From ghost tours to haunted houses to REAL HAUNTED HOUSES, there are plenty of things is this city to be scared about.

Given Halifax's deeply saturated colonial history and the city's strong commitment to preserving that history, you could stand at Pizza Corner, chuck a greasy slice and probably manage to hit five things considered "haunted." With this in mind, it's no wonder that Halifax boasts a few walking tours to the end of October, all geared towards scaring up some ghouls in the night. While many of you may roll your eyes and dismiss these tours as tourist traps, it's never a bad idea to explore your backyard history with someone who actually knows what they're talking about. And like most things it's more fun if you play along (Ghost Walk of Historic Halifax, 494-0525; Ghost Walks at the Citadel, 426-1990).

Beginning October 5, the Bluenose Ghosts Festival invites the public to check out their infamous annual haunted house at Alderney Landing. Be warned, this exhibit is not for the faint of heart and guarantees to freak out absolutely everyone: "Even the tough guys." You can go get your heart rate up on the other side of the bridges October 5, 6, 11-13 and 17-31. But hey tough guys: if you find your Tapout t-shirt isn't providing its usual surge of impotence impudence and this haunted house seems kinda overwhelming, the festival has got you covered with a G-rated matinee showing October 26 and 27.

Now the meaty stuff. Shoo the kids out of the room. Next time you're strolling down Spring Garden, sneak down to the old courthouse across from Grafton Street and look up to the top set of windows. Back when we used to kill people for doing wrong things, we generally liked to hang 'em. Think we threw the gallows away? Nope. Rumour has it the old courthouse plays double duty as storage, housing the same set of gallows used to bring swift justice to criminals and tranquility to our fair city. So as you stare at the tippy-top of those beautiful palladian windows, pause for a moment to consider the sinister device held within. There's gotta be at least a ghost or two in there, man. --Alex Mitchell

Hal-Con
October 26-28, hal-con.com
When Hal-Con debuted in 2010, it was 1,500 people crammed into the Lord Nelson's conference room. This year, spread out over three floors of the World Trade and Convention Centre, the number of attendees is estimated to surpass 5000, according to Hal-Con's director of media relations, Cassie Williams.

"Nerds and geeks aren't on the outside anymore---we're in the mainstream," says Williams, noting the recent success of The Avengers at the box office.

"Even if you're not into comic books, there is something for everyone."

The convention, running from October 26 to 28, will feature celebrity Q&As with actor John Rhys-Davies, writer R.A. Salvatore and comic scribes Gail Simone and Darwyn Cooke, among others. There will be merchandise for sale, live music, film screenings, a dance, a charity auction and an entire floor devoted to gaming: everything from Xbox to Settlers of Catan.

A costume contest will reward those who choose to dress up. "It's the most fascinating people-watching you'll find in this city," says Williams, who last year met a man that had spent a year constructing a proton pack for his Ghostbusters costume.

Hal-Con, a not-for-profit organization, is staffed by volunteers, and Williams says this year more than 200 people opted to donate their time: "Enough that we've had to turn people away, which is heartbreaking." --KH

Timeraiser
November 1, Pier 21, 7pm
Interested in getting your hands on some local art and supporting Halifax non-profit organizations? Then you better not miss Halifax's first Timeraiser. "We're excited because it's part silent auction and part volunteer fair, the twist being that you bid volunteer hours," explains their communications manager Amanda Grainger-Munday. Participating artists earn up to $1,000 per work (garnered from sponsors like Telus), while art lovers raise funds to buy artwork by pledging volunteer hours instead of cash to local non-profit organizations.

Dreamed up by a group of Toronto friends in 2002 looking for ways to find more meaningful volunteer experiences in their community, the idea has spread like wildfire since then, with Timeraisers popping up in Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, Hamilton and Edmonton. The Toronto-based team hopes to reach 10 cities this year, launching the annual events in cities such as Halifax and Montreal. Grainger-Munday says Toronto's Timeraiser's are often sold-out weeks in advance each year.

Toronto-based artist Adam Colangelo, who work consists of copper mosaics, has participated in over eight Timeraiser events throughout Canada, often selling his work at maximum price. "I have been able to expose my work to a wide range of people throughout Canada, while making money as a full-time artist. I think the budget set out is very fair, which is important in keeping the artist afloat," explains Colangelo. Selling his paintings for volunteer hours helps connect him to his community: "It's hard to reach out as an artist, considering most of our time is spent in the studio, or out at shows trying to make a living."

  Halifax-based artist Hillary Webb got a taste of Timeraiser in Toronto, where she attended two events and sold two pieces of artwork. "During the second auction event, I got caught up in the bidding madness and won a beautiful photography piece." She paid for the piece with 125 volunteer hours, some of which were completed at the Khyber ICA. Webb is helping Timeraiser host their first event in Halifax, where a locally-based committee is selecting participating artists and community organizations. "The party is lots of fun," says Webb, "and it gives people an opportunity to take home art that they may not be able to afford to pay for, but have extra time that they can spend to work towards it." --Lizzy Hill

Comedy central
Maniacally laugh your way through fall with (nearly) nightly comedy events. Wait, what? Yes. Finally. A handy resource is facebook.com/hfxcomedy, where a group of dedicated funny folks have organized to promote comedy nights in the HRM. Monday Meatholes every other week at Gus' Pub (8:30pm, free) has burgers from Ace and laughs from some of the city's best; Wednesday will have you running all around the south end with Laughter Burner at Bearly's (8pm, free) and Yuk Yuk's ProAm night at the Westin (8pm, $5) where touring pros and shaky amateurs meet on the same stage to either bomb or soar; Thursday to Saturday Yuk Yuk's fulfills their sworn duty and presents nightly comedy; Friday you can take the ferry to Jacob's Lounge to see Merv's Show (8:30pm, $5) for a mix of bands and laughs and start the whole process over again with Bill Wood's Comedy Show on Sundays at the Company House (8pm, $5). After a long time away, Halifax comedy OG Paul Ash is returning to check on things with a stint at Yuk Yuk's October 11-13, and promises to produce a version of his now Montreal-famous Battle-Com comedy show while he's at it. --Stephanie Johns

More, please
Nothing goes together quite so perfectly as Halloween and flesh (dead or otherwise), and Pink Velvet Burlesque intends to prove it. October 26-27, the titillating troupe presents Black Stocking Theatre, Frights of Fancy at Menz Bar featuring the incomparable Elinor the UberWench, Helena Darling and Rusty McShimmy. Tickets available at the World Tea House. Although Huey Lewis and the News are playing way the hell over in Moncton (October 28 at Casino New Brunswick and seriously I need a ride) the power of love is making a stop in Halifax when Michael J. Fox gives a keynote speech at the Atlantic Dream Festival (October 17, Halifax Metro Centre). What will he talk about? Oh, probably something inspiring. Get your own inspiration at the Halifax Pop Explosion Zine Fair (October 20, St. David's Church Hall) presented by the Anchor Archive Zine Library and Strange Adventures. Confirmed participants include David Germain, Buy Me Comics, Jordyn Bochon, Tinkercmx and lots more. --SJ

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