BY: TIM O’NEAL
It’s that time of year again, where film makers and watchers get together to celebrate the art form they love. No, not the Academy Awards. I’m talking about the 15th annual True/False Film Fest.
True/False is an international festival focused on championing non-fiction films. It started in 2003 after some great documentaries (“Capturing the Friedmans” and “Spellbound”, for example) hit the big screen. The creators wanted to put on an event that celebrated the art and impact of cinematic non-fiction.
They had a couple thousand attendees the first year in downtown Columbia, Missouri, and some excellent guest directors showing their films. “The Corporation,” “The Yes Men,” “The Fog of War,” and “Touching the Void” were among that year’s presentations, all truly fantastic films.
The festival was centred around three theatres within walking distance of each other. As it grew, the event began to transform downtown Columbia into a “one-of-a-kind utopia.” The festival’s mission states, “The transformative, rambunctious, ecstatic experience of T/F creates a cathartic journey that forces participants to do nothing less than to re-imagine reality.” That’s a lofty goal.
The event has grown drastically since that first year. It now sees nearly fifty-thousand attendees from all over the world, and has expanded to include more screening venues. There’s plenty of music, art, and exhibition in the streets to complement the films.
True/False has become about more than just screening important films. It also has a program that matches industry professionals with first-time directors for mentoring in facets of the business.
Each year, the festival raises money for a cause related to film that has been screened. In 2013, audiences raised $37,000 for Reporters Instructed in Saving Colleagues and the Milton Margai School for Blind. Both organizations were featured in “Which Way is the Front Line From Here?”
The 2017 True/False Film Festival is March 2-5 and will feature dozens of exciting and important non-fiction films. The subjects explored through the films in this year’s program include unconventional love, policing, race relations, the banking industry, and sexual expression and identity. These heavy topics are balanced with light-hearted slice-of-life to offer something for everyone.
Sure, the Oscars are fun, but the true party is at Ragtag Cinema in Columbia, Missouri at True/False Film Festival. Have a look at this video of the 2009 kick-off parade to get in the spirit, and visit the festival website to see the program for this year.