We’re proud to announce that Claire Simon will receive this year’s True Vision Award in honor of her achievement in and contribution to the field of nonfiction filmmaking.

True Vision is the only award given out at the fest. Simon is the 14th recipient of this honor. Last year, the award was given to Iranian director Mehrdad Oskouei. Other winners of the True Vision Award include Laura Poitras (2010), James Marsh (2011), and Adam Curtis (2015).



Photograph by Guérin Nicolas


Simon will be appearing at the fest with her newest film, The Graduation, as well as a selection of her previous work. The Graduation observes a team of judges interviewing prospective candidates to La Fémis, France’s most prestigious film school. A former instructor at the school, Simon gained unguarded access to heated behind-the-scenes debates, which she captures with characteristic grace and insight.

Of The Graduation, True/False senior programmer Chris Boeckmann says, “Claire tends to focus on small-scale stories, but they invariably resonate in grand ways. She is both attuned to the poetry of everyday gestures and the large societal forces that shape our behavior.”




Simon, a French director born in London who began as an editor, will be making her first appearance at True/False. She has made a dozen features in a 30-year career playing at the line between documentary and fiction.

In her startling 1992 breakthrough, Récréations (also featured at T/F), Simon embeds with a class of young children. Her camera studies their dynamics during recess, the only time of the day they exert autonomy. Simon finds genuine drama here plus some primal truths.

The idiosyncratic path Simon has followed since Récréations is full of unpredictable, exhilarating turns.

In Coûte que Coûte (1995), Simon rooted the cutthroat capitalist world in the struggle of a man trying to keep a catering business afloat. Simon has also mined her own life: her daughter’s love travails in 800 km de différence / Romance (2001) as well as a friend reflecting back on her life in the ambling masterpiece Mimi (2002), also playing at T/F. Constructed from seven years of real-life dialogue collected by Simon, God’s Offices (2008) features celebrated actors as family-planning counselors.


The award is given with support from Restoration Eyecare. The award is designed and cast in bronze by local Mid-Missouri artist Larry Young.


Posted February 17, 2017



In 2017, True/False Film Fest is partnering with Kickstarter to expand its staff childcare initiative to include visiting filmmakers, artists, and musicians. True/False will provide free, professional daycare during the four-day weekend of the Fest in order to make the festival more accessible to artists with young children.

Through this initiative, True/False & Kickstarter seek to support the real, current needs of all parents, especially low-income and single parents, as well as model possibilities for other festivals on how to be more feminist and equitable.


At the March March Parade during True/Fasle Film Fest 2015 (photograph by Jon Asher)

At the March March Parade during True/False Film Fest 2015 (photograph by Jon Asher)


“Festivals play a vital role as gathering places for the film world” says True/False Co-conspirator David Wilson. “If our guests can’t travel because of young children, they risk missing out on making connections that could lead to future projects.”


Family obligations, especially as they pertain to young children, impact more women than men. While these maternity issues ­mirror the problems affecting many women in male-dominated workplaces, they are heightened in the film industry: filmmaking demands long hours, erratic schedules, and extensive travel. These factors create obstacles that wedge women without a financial cushion out of the film industry.

With the support of Kickstarter, True/False hopes to offset the cost of expensive child care and help parents give birth to their films, build essential industry relationships and remember why documentary filmmaking is an urgent art.


“A lot of our attention and resources at Kickstarter are going towards contributing to sustainability within the documentary community,” says Liz Cook, Kickstarter’s Director of Documentary Film. “While we are thrilled this will be able to support both male and female directors, this collaboration really stemmed from a conversation with True/False about our internal initiatives centered around supporting female filmmakers. This is a totally new type of partnership for us at Kickstarter and we are incredibly excited to be collaborating with True/False to offer this important resource for creators with children.”


The Cradle, True/False’s new daycare will be held at the Picturehouse Theater (inside the United Methodist Church, located in the epicenter of the festival) and run by licensed child care providers employed by the church. In collaboration with The Atelier, a Columbia-based children’s arts studio, there will also be creative educational programming for children old enough to participate. The activities are tied to the theme of the festival, “Out of the Ether,” in that they encourage discovery of ideas related to the elements, and how small elements can be built together to achieve something larger than the individuals themselves. Many of the activities also involve aspects of light, video, literacy, and free play.

Posted February 14, 2017


Introducing our latest endeavor in nonfiction storytelling: the True/False Podcast! Presented by KBIA, this podcast is where documentary lovers, watchers and creators come together. Each episode features a conversation between a noteworthy nonfiction filmmaker or film critic and a True/False curator.  Discussions are centered on a particular craft-of-storytelling theme (such as building character or creating an immersive experience) that True/False selects based on the strengths of the filmmaker interviewee.  The podcast offers insider insight into the challenges and joys of making today’s most cutting edge nonfiction films.  


A sample:

  • Craig Atkinson and Laura Hartrick, filmmakers of Do Not Resist, discuss how they won access to high-security locations.
  • Eric Hynes, film critic (Film Comment, The New York Times) and curator at Museum of the Moving Image, discusses the future of documentary cinema.
  • Bill and Turner Ross — the filmmakers of Contemporary Color, Western, and Tchoupitoulas — explore creating documentary as real-life experience.


At interludes during episodes, we will feature soundscapes of the Fest. In these brief pieces, the audience is placed amid festival experiences such as the infamous March March parade or an interactive art installation. Through interviews and sounds of True/False, each episode evokes a mini-Fest in which listeners can revel in the joy and thought-provoking nature of True/False’s four-day ephemera.


The first full-length episode is set to premiere Feb. 23 on iTunes, Stitcher, and wherever podcasts are available. The second episode will be released on the first day of True/False, March 2. The third episode will be available March 9. After that, episodes will be released every other Thursday. In addition to iTunes and Stitcher, listeners can find the show at and Production of the podcast pairs the expertise of journalists and audio professionals at KBIA as well as the students at the University of Missouri School of Journalism with True/False films and filmmakers.
A preview of the podcast is now available on KBIA’s website and on iTunes.



Posted February 11, 2017



With generous support from the Ford Foundation, True/False presents its second year of Provocations: a curated selection of incendiary thinkers.

These whip-smart presenters will appear before feature films, injecting a mini “ideas-fest” into True/False,  offering challenging ideas in five-minute blasts. These five individuals stand ready to rearrange worldviews with the power of their words:


Destiny Watford: Now a university student, this unstoppable force won last year’s 2016 Goldman Environmental Prize for leading the successful opposition to the nation’s largest trash-burning incinerator, proposed for her Baltimore neighborhood. Provocation before screenings of the feature Communion.


Linda Tirado: A self-described “completely average American,” Linda Tirado, author of Hand To Mouth: Living In Bootstrap America, writes about poverty, media and politics. She has reported on militant movements such as Ammon Bundy’s armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Provocation before screenings of the feature The Challenge.


Sarah Jeong: Trained as an attorney, Sarah is a contributing editor at Vice Motherboard, where she writes about technology, policy, and law. Her book The Internet of Garbage considers online harassment. Provocation before screenings of the feature Rat Film.


Sarah Kendzior: This St. Louis-based journalist and Twitter legend covers politics, media and the economy. For the last decade, she has researched authoritarian states of the former Soviet Union, an increasingly relevant topic. Provocation before screenings of the feature Stranger in Paradise.
Stacy Kranitz: Born in Kentucky, Stacy’s photographs document those outside mainstream American culture. In her celebrated photographs of Appalachia, she is demystifying some well-entrenched stereotypes. Provocation before screenings of the feature The Road Movie.


On the Sunday morning of the Fest, the five piquant Provocateurs will gather to present their provocations at the Chautauqua, an event named after the adult education movement popular in the 19th and 20th century. Like early Chautauquas, True/False’s event comes complete with music and storytelling.


Kaitlin Prest, host of Chautauqua, the first provocateur on Sunday, March 6, 2016, in Rhynsburger Theatre. (Photo by Stephanie Sidoti)

Kaitlin Prest, host of Chautauqua 2016, in Rhynsburger Theatre. (Photo by Stephanie Sidoti)

Posted February 7, 2017

Second Take: ‘Strabismus’ by Vanessa Renwick

Vanessa Renwick, director of LAYOVER (T/F 2015), just released a new short film STRABISMUS. Vanessa Renwick narrates her experience with Strabismus, a disorder in which the eyes don’t look in the same direction at the same time. While we watch tender faces and eyes slowly bring the camera into focus, Vanessa unpacks what blurred vision means to her. This film is part of our “Second Take” series of short films created at the Fest by T/F alumni. Watch below for a second look at some familiar faces:


2017 Music Lineup Announced!


In our 14th year, we’re excited to announce our most diverse lineup of musicians yet! From local lo-fi rockers to jazz-tinged crooners to insightful practitioners of observational hip-hop, we’ve got a wide array of artists from across the continent sure to please your ears and feed your soul.

This year’s lineup has a classical tone at its core, pushing traditional musical sounds into beautiful, cross-genre murmurations. Harpist Mary Lattimore bends her songs into new sonic territory, entering realms of electronic wonder. Indie darling Mirah will perform with a quartet of budding virtuosos from the Missouri Symphony Society Conservatory. The hip-hop stylings of Open Mike Eagle will showcase his self-described “Art Rap,” which compresses his wide range of interests from Kurt Vonnegut to cartoons. And Jack Grelle will bring his country best, a local favorite gaining national attention with his strong folk roots.


MNDR reigns supreme at our Friday Night After Party DJ set at the Blue Note

MNDR reigns supreme at our Friday Night After Party DJ set at the Blue Note


Throughout the four days of the festival, musicians will take the stage at Café Berlin, Eastside Tavern, and Rose Music Hall and also the more nontraditional “stages” of the Landmark Bank Courtyard and the Missouri United Methodist Church Sanctuary.

This edition of the fest will embark on a new venture with The Blue Note — a Friday Night After Party featuring a DJ set by MNDR – electro-pop chanteuse, Duran Duran keyboardist, Mark Ronson collaborator and T/F legend.  

As always, buskers will provide festival-goers with a varied medley of eclectic sounds before each film screening.


If you want access to all of the music T/F has in store, Busker Bands are on sale now at Busker Bands are great by themselves or paired with a Simple Pass.

For information on all of the artists appearing at the fest, visit


Posted February 3, 2017

Our Statement on the Travel Ban

Ragtag Film Society’s mission is to champion independent film and media art and serve film communities both locally and globally. True/False showcases the very best nonfiction films, music, and art from around the world. The recent restrictions on immigration directly affect us and our ability to fulfill our mission.

At True/False, we bring the filmmakers to our audiences. Last year, True/False hosted two Iranian citizens making their first trip to Columbia, Missouri: Mehrdad Oskouei (True Vision honoree for Starless Dreams) and Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami (Sonita). Our audiences were moved by these films and the presence of the filmmakers added immeasurably to their experience. Today, both filmmakers would be blocked from entry to the U.S. because they are citizens of Iran.

As we work to finalize our program for this coming fest, our ability to secure participation and attendance from international filmmakers is gravely threatened. Whether directly blocked or deterred by the chilling effect of the recent executive order, many of our international guests no longer feel welcome in the United States.

While we experience direct losses to our programming from these restrictions, we recognize the much broader threat they pose to American values. To target one religious group for registration and suspicion violates the highest values that underpin our First Amendment, and imperils the free exercise of religion for all who worship in America. But the First Amendment does a lot more.

The First Amendment of the Bill of Rights (1791): Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

In a very real sense, the First Amendment is the banner that protects everything we do. It protects our ability to present innovative cinema from around the world. It protects the artists, both cinematic and otherwise, who bring and install provocative work to True/False. It protects our sponsors and allies’ ability to worship and share their space and their resources with our organization. It even protects our festivalgoers’ right to peaceably assemble and march a few blocks down the streets of downtown Columbia for the sake of the arts.

For the democratic future of our children and their children’s children, cultural and civic organizations must forcefully uphold our country’s highest values. As a festival, we thrive when assembling artists and thinkers from diverse backgrounds. Our very existence is dependent on a union that celebrates pluralism, a welcoming of differences.

Today we affirm that the First Amendment is the bedrock of our society and of events like True/False. We hope everyone will understand the vitality of these rights and take appropriate steps to join us in their defense. We want to bring the best global artists to the United States, but we cannot do so if they are detained at our borders.

See you at the Fest.

The Ragtag Film Society:

True/False Film Fest & Ragtag Cinema 

Posted January 31, 2017

2017 DIY Day: Friday, March 3

Sign-ups are live for our 2017 DIY Day! DIY Day is a free, all-day Fest exploration specifically designed for high schoolers to have experiential learning in areas they would not normally encounter in schools. Students have the opportunity to participate in workshops spread the North Village Arts District where they will learn “tricks of the trade” in a hands-on fashion from professional filmmakers, artists, and musicians who are part of the Fest! Students will meet in a central location for a FREE lunch, attend self-selected workshops, and then reconvene to reflect and rally for the March March, our annual parade through downtown.


 (Photo by: Ryan Henriksen)


This year, we’ve got a fantastic line-up of workshops with some of our 2017 T/F favorites including “songmentation” (experimentation + songs) with musician Thana Iyer, documentary animation with digital animator Boaz Balachsan, audio adventures with Andrew Leland, host of The Organist podcast from KCRW and The Believer magazine, and storytelling with Voice of Witness, an oral history organization whose mission is to amplify the voices of people impacted by injustice.

And that’s just the beginning… for a full list of workshops happening on Friday, March 3, head to our DIY Day sign-up: Faculty volunteers and students are encouraged to apply by February 10th (Hurry! We try to keep workshops small so students can get the most out of each experience which means space is limited!).

Posted January 26, 2017


True/False is excited to announce that I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO will play at True/False 2017. Just nominated for an Oscar in the Best Feature Documentary category, I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO is an elegant appreciation of the brilliant and prophetic 20th century author James Baldwin.

In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project, Remember This House. The book was to be a revolutionary, personal account of the lives and successive assassinations of three of his close friends—Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. At the time of Baldwin’s death in 1987, he left behind only thirty completed pages of his manuscript.

Now, in his incendiary new documentary, filmmaker Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished. The result is a radical, up-to-the-minute examination of race in America, using Baldwin’s original words and flood of rich archival material. I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO is a journey into black history that connects the past of the Civil Rights movement to the present of Black Lives Matter. It is a film that questions black representation in Hollywood and beyond. And, ultimately, by confronting the deeper connections between the lives and assassination of these three leaders, Baldwin and Peck have produced a work that challenges the very definition of what America stands for.

Producer Hébert Peck will be attending True/False 2017 with the film.

Posted January 24, 2017


In 2016, we introduced a new aspect of our growing transmedia program, an immersive storytelling experience known as LOST LETTERS.

Building on that first foray, reimagined to tie into the 2017 fest visual theme of “Out of the Ether,” True/False proudly announces ELEMENTAL. While LOST LETTERS went hyper-narrative and flavored the world of live immersive theater with escape-room puzzles, ELEMENTAL will take fest-goers to a minimalist, language-free world through a deconstructed adventure about the building blocks of matter.

Once again, groups of up to eight people will be given one hour to explore and solve puzzles. With ELEMENTAL, however, the space begins as one big empty white room. Spare, wide open, but full of hidden wonder.

Due to the intimate nature of the experience, reservations for ELEMENTAL are ultra-limited. Tickets are $35 for all passholders and non-passholders alike. Ticket purchasers will be able to reserve a time slot to attend for a specific hour. The event will run nine times per day on the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of True/False (March 3-5). Time slots may be selected starting at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 13, following the announcement of the film schedule. As this is a team event, attendees are welcome to sign up with friends or will work as a team with others who have chosen the same time slot. 

ELEMENTAL pulls together much of the same technical team that helped make LOST LETTERS a success, including art direction from Mid-Continental Art Collective, sound design by Tim Pilcher, lighting design from Taylor Shaw and electronics and 3D fabrication by Ben Harris. Puzzle design comes from Jon Westhoff with help from Connor Hickox and Josh & Gary Oxenhandler.

ELEMENTAL is produced as a partnership between True/False and Breakout Como, the city’s premier escape-room facility, located at 218 N. Eighth St. in downtown Columbia.  
For further ticketing details and sales, visit our passes page.

Posted January 18, 2017
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