‘Bernie’ benefit show raises wildfire relief funds

Sarah Lawson

Funny man Jack Black and Austin director Richard Linklater visited the Paramount Theater to show a benefit screening of the new film “Bernie.” All proceeds went to aid the Bastrop fire relief effort.

“Bernie,” starring Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine and Matthew McConaughey, details the life of a beloved funeral director in Carthage, Texas who forms an unlikely friendship with the town’s richest widow.

Real-life funeral home owner Carlton Shamburger said he came to the premier to see his business on the big screen.

“I actually own the funeral home that the true story is based upon,” Shamburger said. “They used the outside of our funeral home for filming. Not the inside of course. We didn’t give out names because we are everyday people and this [is] Hollywood, but our family is just happy to help out such a great cause.”

He said the film is largely dry humor from a different angle.

Linklater said he decided to open up the screening, originally intended for the crew, to the public immediately after hearing the news of the fires.

Linklater said that parts of Bastrop have been destroyed, but there is still hope for recovery. He said he hopes to help the recovery effort with this philanthropic measure and that he would love to film in Bastrop again in the future.

“The film is kind of this really weird memorial in a way. A memorial to Bernie,” Linklater said. “The mysterious power of film can do anything. We only hope that we can help enough to rebuild Bastrop.”

Linklater answered the majority of questions during the question and answer session following the screening. Black said he was sympathetic for the victims and their families.

“It really is no problem for us to do this to help Bastrop out. It was just the right thing to do,” Black said. “I feel so bad for the victims and the families and hope that this helped enough to make a difference.”

Many people at the event expressed sincere appreciation for the efforts of Linklater and Black. One hundred percent of proceeds from the event went to Bastrop Emergency Food Pantry, Heart of Pines Volunteer Fire Department and Friends of the Lost Pines State Parks.

“It’s great to have them do this for Bastrop. Being from there, it really is a sentimental thing for me,” said Bastrop resident Roger Basquette. “I mean it makes sense. It is [Linklater’s] hometown, and I guess we all support our own.”