“True/False is nirvana. When I went to True/False, I remembered what I sometimes forget: the unalloyed joy of making and watching docs.”–Alex Gibney, Oscar-winning director, Taxi to the Dark Side
In case you haven’t heard of the True/False Film Fest before now, here’s a quick primer:
Thursday–Sunday, March 3-6, 2016
Downtown Columbia, Missouri
41 of the newest creative non-fiction feature films from around the world (+ 20 shorts)
40 bands and 13 concerts
Thinking about coming to True/False and want to know the best way to achieve documentary nirvana? Say hello to the Lux Pass.
To cover the basics: the Lux pass provides a complete festival experience. In advance of the festival, it allows you unlimited access to ticket reservations for all festival screenings, Thursday – Sunday. During the festival, if you change your mind about something you want to see, it gives you the freedom to swap out tickets (if we have tickets) at the box office, OR use the last-minute line (the Q) at any screening (if we don’t), for no additional charge.
Your Lux pass will always match your Lux tickets – so be sure to keep them together, and don’t lose them – they’re irreplaceable!
The Q may sound tricky to explain, but it’s actually easy once you’ve done it. If it’s your first time, just find the most flamboyantly dressed person at the venue – that’s the Q Queen! These colorful folks are mobile information stations, and they’ll tell you exactly how to Q. Be sure to arrive at the screening at least 1 hour early to get your Q number.
Your Lux pass also gets you access to festival events: the Jubilee, Reality Bites, and the @CTION party (with just your pass), Campfire Stories, Gimme Truth (our game show), Chautauqua, and the Closing night reception with your pass and a reserved ticket, and of course, all of the other events that are free and open to the public like, the March March parade, the VJ Suave Animation ride, Field Sessions, the Art Ramble, and Toasted. For more information about all of these events, check out the EVENTS page, the PARTIES page, and the SYNAPSES page!
You also get free admission to many of our concerts, or at least a discount off the door price with your pass. There ARE a couple of special events that cost extra (for ALL passholders, not just Lux). Those tickets include the True Life Run, and our brand new interactive, gamified theater event, LOST LETTERS.
This year, Reality Bites, on the Friday evening of the fest, spans both the Missouri Theater and The Picturehouse across ninth street.
While some parties are more merry, spirited receptions, the @CTION party is your chance to DANCE. Get your groove on between full days of films.
The major benefit (with all of our pass types), is that because with your pass purchase you are opting into the whole festival weekend, we want to make it easy for you to get what you want. We don’t sell individual tickets to the general public online, nor at all, in advance of the festival. Your pass opens that door to let you reserve your tickets in advance and plan out your weekend. As long as you are proactive and make your ticket reservations right away, you should be able to get nearly everything you want (not always the case for Simple passholders).
Lux ticket reservations begin at 6pm on Friday, February 19. Detailed instructions HERE. Be sure to reserve all of your tickets prior to Simple reservations on Sunday evening at 6pm, and we strongly encourage purchasing a Lux pass well before then.
As True/False grows, so does our creative fervor and our ambition for the new. Lately, we’ve drawn increased inspiration from other forms of storytelling, and in 2016 we’ll unveil the Good Wizard arcade. This home of T/F transmedia will be styled after a classic 80s arcade, but filled with virtual reality and participatory installations intent on building a new narrative language for these emerging forms.
As we explore forms of storytelling that are ‘Off the Trail’, we’ve concocted a true transmedia happening. It’s part immersive theater, part live-action video game, part puzzle room. More than anything, this event transforms typical storytelling and challenges you to take an active role in the narrative.
LOST LETTERS is an hour-long performance, to be experienced in groups of up to 10 people. With your party of other adventurous fest-goers, you will be challenged to work your way through a narrative in 60 minutes or less. Actors and clues of many varieties will guide your way, but completing the experience will rely on creative thinking and teamwork.
Because of the intimate nature of the performance, reservations for LOST LETTERS are ultra-limited. Tickets for a single session will be $38 for all passholders and non-passholders alike. Once you’ve purchased a ticket, you’ll be able to reserve a time slot to attend for a specific hour. Lost Letters will run 8 times per day on the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of True/False (March 4 – 6). Time slots may be selected starting Feb 15, following the announcement of the film schedule. As this is a team event, you are welcome to sign up with friends (up to 10 people), or you will work as a team with others who have chosen the same time.
Welcome to our daily digest. Here we’ll be covering the Fest each day as it happens and trying to talk about True/False as a whole. Paradoxically, the only way to do this is to look closely at a few individual parts. In these daily updates, we’ll be covering just a fraction of the film screenings, Q and As, panel conversations, concerts, parties and art exhibits happening this weekend in coordination with the T/F photo and video teams.
In 2015 we want to talk about time. Among the arts, cinema’s relationship with time is unique. A film only truly exists inside of its brief run-time, yet inside of that sacred set of minutes, great cinema dominates time, underlining it or erasing it, chopping it to pieces or stretching it out before us. Likewise, our festival is a mere four days, but we aim to offer an experience which opens temporally both backwards and forwards, outward into the years.
To look at T/F we need to start not at the beginning, but at many beginnings, conceptual, temporal, geographical of the threads which have gathered together into our festival.
To help explore the daunting theme of time, we once more called upon the services of filmmaker Jarred Alterman, who crafted the microfilms you’ll see before each and every screening. Here’s an enigmatic preview of what he has in store for us.
True/False exists to investigate the contradiction at the heart of cinema, a medium which can faithfully capture slivers of reality while constantly manipulating our experience. A couple years ago we began an important new part of this inquiry thanks to the generous support of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Neither/Nor is an annual partnership with a visiting film critic to map a history of chimeric cinema, films which aggressively embrace cinema’s central paradox. This year in our third Neither/Nor program critic Ela Bittencourt is presenting a series of shamefully under seen work from Poland, covering the last two decades of that nation’s Communist rule. Ela created a beautiful monograph featuring essays and interviews on all six programs in the series, available right now at the Ragtag Box office.
Months of preparation and research for Neither/Nor culminated last night in a kickoff for the series at Ragtag Cinema, downtown CoMo’s 365-day a year cinema born of the same parent organization and inseparable from the Fest in innumerable ways. In the Hittsville gallery space hosted a photography show of the work of filmmaker Bogdan Dziworski, one of the Polish masters we’re honoring this year.
photo by Taylor Blatchford
Inside Ragtag’s big theater we held a reception for Ela with authentic Polish food from Columbia’s Cafe Poland. We then settled in for a presentation of Arena of Life, a program of unforgettable short films by Bogdan. Afterwards Bogdan spoke excitedly as Ela translated about his desire to blend the surreal and the real through aggressive sound design and told an unbelievable story about a planned prison break.
photo by Rebecca Allen
Meanwhile, our annual fundraising effort for a documentary subject, the True Life Fund, is already well underway. Filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer, the man responsible for The Act of Killing and it’s companion film The Look of Silence has made appearances at all four Columbia high schools, discussing with students how Adi Rukun, The Look’s protagonist, heroically confronted the still powerful men who killed his brother along with hundreds of thousands of others in Indonesia’s anti-communist purges of 1965-66.
photo by Allison Coffelt
At our venues around town and on the University of Missouri campus, our army of volunteers has once more sprung into action, transforming spaces into temporary, yet glorious cinemas. Below you can see the ball room of the Tiger Hotel in the process of becoming The Forrest Theater once more.
photo by Morgan Lieberman
Our production team has already spent months and months in T/F’s secret lab, constructing the numerous art installations which will reveal a hidden utopia inside of our city. Here Glenn Rice installs his “light cone” piece in downtown’s central artery, Alley A.
photo by Rebecca Allen
And our central hub of operations, the T/F Box Office, has settled into its new home in Imago Gallery at Hitt and Broadway. The bustling crowds picked up their tickets and passes and scooped out the merch underneath chandeliers and murals dedicated to a creature with extraordinary longevity.
photo by Billie Stock
Finally, last night T/F eve came to an end at Eastside Tavern, where Relevant Hairstyles where part of a weird and wild start to our 2015 music program. Buskers will be playing before each and every screening this weekend.
photo by Jon Asher
It’s about time. The preparation is finally at an end. Let’s get started.
Note: Gateway Packets are now sold out. But do not fear, we’ll have thousands of tickets on sale for these and other films at our box office beginning March 5.
The Gateway Packet is now on sale until 6 pm on Friday February 27 for T/F 2015. For $40, the Gateway grants you the ability to reserve three tickets online. For a select set of screenings at True/False 2015, which runs March 5-8. You can reserve tickets for three different screenings or multiple tickets for the same one; it’s up to you. Gateway is a great to introduce someone new to T/F. Pick up yours here.
This year’s Gateway screenings are as follows:
(T)ERROR, Thursday at 6:45pm, Vimeo Theater @ The Blue Note
Those Who Feel the Fire Burning, Thursday 9:30pm, Vimeo Theater @ The Blue Note
Drone, Thursday, 10:15pm, The Missouri Theatre
Cartel Land, Friday 10:15pm, The Missouri Theatre
I Am the People, Saturday 10:00am, Geology
Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, Saturday 9:30pm, Missouri Theatre
Finally, The Jinx a multipart HBO series, where filmmaker Andrew Jarecki presents a shifting kaleidoscope of perspectives around millionaire Robert Durst, who happens to be the center of multiple murders and disappearances. The Sunday screening that is part five, so those watching along on HBO or HBOGo can join in. If you’ve caught up, check out the analysis of the latest episode on Vulture.
We are thrilled to announce a first-of-its-kind, surprise T/F screening Sunday, October 19 at The Blue Note. We’ll be showing two screenings of a brand new documentary film by a T/F alumnus, giving you a unique opportunity to see an important new work ahead of the rest of the world! We can’t tell you the title just yet, but will reveal it sometime in October.
What we can tell you is that like all T/F screenings, there will be live music. Syna So Pro has been a crowd favorite at the last couple installments of T/F, and will be sharing her experimental and infectious.
Tickets for both the 4:30 and 8:00 PM Surprise Screenings are on sale now through the T/F website, HERE.
If you’ve already purchased a Super Circle pass for T/F 2015, you are entitled to a ticket to one of the two screenings. Once we determine the exact times, we’ll ask you to let us know which screening you would prefer. If you want to pick up a T/F 2015 Super Circle pass, they are on sale here.
These screenings are presented with support from the Jonathan B. Murray Center for Documentary Journalism at the Missouri School of Journalism.
The True/False 2014 Fest Digest provides a day by day recap of this year’s Fest. Written in the midst of the excitement, each digest entry recalls a handful of the previous day’s events with commentary, pictures and videos. Look back at the Magic/Realism:
Welcome to the True/False Film Fest 2014 Fest Digest! Here we’ll be gleefully taking on the impossible task of recapping the Fest, collecting stories, photos, videos along the way. Don’t forget to check back in, we’ll have a post each morning to help you relive the day that was.
It’s both marvelous and tragic that there’s just too much True/False to go around, and no way for any one consciousness to process it all. This digest, like all of you, will be plotting its own idiosyncratic course through the maze of music, art, panels, parties and cinema stretched out before us.
The theme of True/False 2014 is “Magic/Realism”. This alignment of words and symbols is perhaps a bit cryptic. One way we like to read it is as Magic sitting atop Realism, the fantastic’s victory over the mundane. Central to this conquest is the transformation of downtown Columbia, a place familiar to many of us, into somewhere very different for these four weird days. This was affected by the Herculean efforts of the T/F production team, numerous visiting and local artists and hundreds upon hundreds of T/F volunteers. Films will be playing at nine different locations, all within walking distance of one another downtown. All around and in-between you’ll find numerous art installations and surprises.
Our box office is always a central hub of True/False, where you’ll find tickets, merch and much more. This year it’s located at the corner of Hitt and Broadway. Artists Sabrina Braden and Sasha Goodnow reimagined this space as a Victorian-era parlor, cozy yet off kilter. As it opened for hustle and bustle of pass holder pick up, you could feel in the air that the T/F is finally here.
photo by Derek Jenkins
Most of our theaters are ephemeral, sliding in and out of existence with the Fest. For example, the ballroom of Columbia’s most prominent building, the Tiger Hotel, once-more became the metallic woodland of the Forrest Theater, so named for Forrest Rose, a well-loved Columbia columnist and stand-up bass player who we lost much too soon.
photo by Quint Smith
The major exception is Ragtag Cinema, downtown CoMo’s 365-day-a-year movie theater. Ragtag is our other half, a conjoined twin sharing numerous vital organs, including its dedicated staff and loyal patrons. Its two screens are located in the building now known as “Hittsville”, the home it shares with Uprise Bakery, Ninth Street Video and Hitt Records.
It was here our Neither/Nor series got underway for its second year. This program, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, is an ongoing collaboration with a visiting film critic to map a history of “chimeric” cinema, films which defy classification as either fiction or documentary. This year Godfrey Cheshire is introducing four meta-cinematic Iranian films from the 1990s. He wrote an excellent limited edition monograph, available for free at the Ragtag box office, which skillfully situates these works within the broader history of Iran and its cinema.
photo by Derek Jenkins
The first film in the series to screen was Close-Up, Abbas Kiarostami’s 1990 masterpiece built around the true story of a man arrested for impersonating filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf.
photo by Derek Jenkins
After the film, Godfrey told the incredible story of how he was instrumental in getting the Iranian government to allow Kiarostami’s Taste of Cherry to screen at Cannes, where it went on to win the Palme d’Or. He also talked about his visits to Iran, where conversations with Kiarostami and Makhmalbaf led him to see Close-Up‘s reconstructed realityas a “series of bamboozlements” by Kiarostami.
Later on, our music program began with a blast of punk rock at the hip downtown hangout Eastside Tavern. The first of 13 T/F music showcases featured performances from Fliight, Bruiser Queen, Comfort Zone and New Tongues.
photo by Derek Jenkins
Now the real excitement begins and we can’t wait to share it all with you. See you downtown and let the Magic/Realism commence!
If you are looking for an affordable way to see a few films and find out what True/False is all about, consider picking up our Gateway package. This offer allows you to reserve tickets to three films off of a select list of nine, which we’ll introduce below. You can then pick up your tickets at our box office beginning on Thursday, February 28th. But you’ll have to act soon. Gateway sales end tomorrow, February 22nd, at 6 p.m.
The first film, playing Thursday night at The Blue Note, is The Expedition to the End of the World. This travelogue follows a group of scientists and philosophers as they travel on a three-mast schooner through the unexplored inlets of Northeast Greenland. The crew’s meditations on matters great and small are punctuated by an excellent and unconventional score, ranging from opera to heavy metal. This film is sure to be a powerful experience on the big screen.
Next up is No, a interesting mix of historical fact and fiction, recounting the time an intrepid group of madmen took on a Chilean military dictatorship. This film blends archival material with fictional scenes shot on reconstructed 80s style cameras to create a unified retro aesthetic. Manohla Dargis of the New York Times discussed the film with its director Pablo Larraín at last summer’s Cannes film festival. No is also nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award.
Crash Reel is the latest from Lucy Walker, director of the T/F 2010 hit Wasteland. It tells the story of Kevin Pearce, once arguably the world’s greatest snow boarder, who suffered a terrible crash. The film transforms seamlessly from a high-adrenaline sports movie into a poignant and inspiring tale of recovery and brotherly love. Walker discusses how she became interested in telling this story to fellow T/F filmmaker Ondi Timoner in the video below.
Gateway includes three films dealing with the fascinating and frequently morally hazy subject of intelligence and counter-terrorism. The first, Manhunt, talks with the CIA analysts and agents who spent over 20 years tracking down Osama bin Laden. The film turns the record of their frustrations, ethical conflicts and ultimate triumph into a compelling detective story. The Daily Beast spoke with three of these analysts about their reactions to seeing their story on the big screen.
The Gatekeepers is built around interviews with the six men who have headed the Israeli Shin Bet intelligence agency. The film revisits the history of the post-1967 Arab-Israeli conflict from this fascinating new perspective. Director Dror Moreh spoke with the Times of Israel about getting these secretive men to open up for his camera and the perplexing implications of what they said.
Dirty Wars follows journalist Jeremy Scahill on a noirish journey from dusty huts outside Abottabad to seedy D.C.-area motels to the halls of Congress as he uncovers the unpleasant facts about the activities of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), the organization empowered by the Obama administration to oversee an expanded “kill list”. Scahill and director Rick Rowley talk in depth about the film in the clip below from Democracy Now.
Winter Go Away is a powerful survey of life in Russia during last winter’s presidential elections. Avoiding all talking heads, the film captures the rallies, protests and backroom meetings directly, creating an important document of the hope, frustration and confusion of the political moment.
Cutie and the Boxer, a breakout hit at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, observes the difficult relationship of an aging bohemian couple, the “action painter” Ushio Shinohara and wife of 40 years, Noriko. This intimate exploration of the problems of love and art is an impressive directorial debut for Zachary Heinzerling, who introduces his film in the clip below.
After Tiller follows the lives and work of the four doctors left in all of America who perform late term abortions. While clearly made with a point of view, the film avoids any lionizing or demonizing, instead providing a much needed human context for this most divisive of issues.
This diverse selection of films offers a real cross section of this year’s fest. And just a reminder, this package will only be available for another 24 hours.
True/False would not be True/False without our buskers. They infuse the entire weekend with a vital energy. And no one represents this energy better than Toughcats, favorites at T/F since 2008. The tireless indie-bluegrass trio is part of a loyal group of True/Falsers from Maine who make an annual journey to Columbia for the Fest.
Corey Ransberg captured Toughcats playing their song “Happy Day” in one of a series of videos shot in the music nook of our 2012 box office.
Also a must see for Toughcats fans is the beautiful music video for their song “Somebody Old”.
If anyone attending True/False ever stopped to consider where the Fest’s tickets were printed (and, let’s be honest, this elite group of daydreaming nerds and visionaries is surely very, very small), they probably imagine some sort of corporate-industrial fortress, belching smoke into the sky above Earth City, MO, a sad robot toiling away day and night in a sub-sub-basement, churning out the more than thirty thousand tickets that are distributed at the T/F Box Office each year.
Those visionary nerds would be wrong!
Every ticket is actually printed on a mini-thermal ticket printer sitting atop the ping-pong table in the basement of T/F materials coordinator and signage czar Glenn Rice’s basement. Rice has produced an impossibly entertaining, one-minute-long, lovingly annotated film that explains the process in loving detail.