The True/False Film Fest distributed $30,000 to the five families featured in the film Bully, this year’s True Life Fund selection about the impact of bullying on society. Capacity crowds attended screenings of Bully at the Missouri Theatre and Jesse Auditorium during True/False 2012. The True Life Fund—presented by the True/False Film Fest with support from The Crossing Church and media support by KOMU—raises money and awareness for the subjects of one nonfiction film each year and provides the audience with an opportunity to give back to the subjects on the screen. The funds raised will go to the main characters of the film, Alex Libby, Kelby Johnson, and Ja’Meya Jackson, and to the families of Tyler Long and Ty Smalley, two bullied kids who took their own lives. The money is a way of thanking them for sharing their stories and speaking out about bullying.
This year, True/False is proud to announce the inaugural Hi-Def Academy, a program that gives Columbia public high-school students a chance to get a closer look at the makings of a film festival. Students screen films and speak with directors from the fest lineup. I sat down with True/False education and outreach coordinator Polina Malikin to get an idea of what the Hi-Def Academy students have been up to, and what they can expect during the festival.
TRUE/FALSE: Tell us about how the idea for the Hi Def Academy came about, and what the participants will get to do over the festival weekend.
POLINA MALIKIN: The idea is — we have this festival with all these amazing resources. How do we make it accessible and inspiring for young people in our community? From the start, True/False has given out free tickets and held filmmaker visits to reach out to the young people in our community and engage them in the festival, but we wanted to do something more intensive this year. So we created two new programs, and the Hi-Def Academy is one of them. We’re giving them a behind-the-scenes look at the festival. So the group gets to go together through the festival, meet filmmakers, see films together, and kind of have this inside view of how the festival works. And after the festival, they’ll talk to True/False staff to debrief and understand—not just, “OK, let’s talk about the issues in this documentary, let’s talk about documentary or art-making in general”—but talk about how a community event like this is put together.