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.
Freedom Summer, a documentary by Stanley Nelson (The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution), looks back at the summer of 1964, when the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee organized hundreds of student activist to take segregated Mississippi by storm, registering voters, creating freedom schools, and establishing the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.
*Please note, the Friday screening is specifically for CPS High Schoolers & Educators. We feel this moment in Columbia is a particularly salient one for students, and we’re excited to offer one of these presentations just for our high schools. Please bring school IDs for admission to the Friday screening.
All of our community is welcome to the free screenings on Saturday & Sunday, as space is available.
On November 18 at the Missouri Theatre, True/False and the Jonathan B. Murray Center for Documentary Journalism (a new addition to the University of Missouri’s Journalism School) are co-presenting a special screening of the documentary Killing Them Safely. Directed by Mizzou Journalism School graduate and Columbia resident Nick Berardini, Killing Them Safely is a gripping, nuanced look at a company, TASER International, as it confronts charges that its eponymous product, an electroshock weapon, has killed people.
For Berardini, the film is the result of an all-consuming six-year journey. In August 2008, a police officer fired a taser at Stanley Harlan, a 23-year-old Moberly resident, who lost consciousness and was pronounced dead two hours later. Then an MU broadcast journalism student working at KOMU (underneath current Murray Center director Stacey Woelfel), Berardini reported on the incident. Shortly thereafter, he started production on the documentary, which took him all across the continent. Berardini learned extensive details about similar cases, acquired many hours of archival material (including deposition footage of TASER co-founders Rick and Tom Smith) and, crucially, secured an interview with TASER International Vice President Steve Tuttle, a peculiar and fascinating spokesman whose performance serves as the film’s backbone. Berardini then edited his engrossing, disturbing, sometimes darkly amusing film alongside True/False alumni Robert Greene (Actress, Fake It So Real), who is now also a Columbia resident, serving as “Filmmaker In Chief” at the Murray Center.
Killing Them Safely premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2015 under a different title, Tom Swift and His Electric Rifle. It received glowing reviews and was then picked up by distributor Sundance Selects, who will release the movie later this year. In early November, T/F programmer Chris Boeckmann met Berardini at Uprise Bakery to discuss his filmmaking journey.
To order tickets to the November 18 screening, visit this page
T/F: I studied in the strategic communications sequence of the journalism school, and you studied in the broadcast journalism sequence. In strat comm, they teach you how to handle interviews with journalists. You need to have three points, and you’re supposed to find sly ways to make them over and over. You know, “That’s an interesting question, Bob, but what I think we really need to be focused on is….” Meanwhile, I assume the broadcast sequence is teaching you how to break the public relations representatives, to get past those three points. I’m curious how you approached this big interview with Steve Tuttle, TASER’s spokesperson. Was he using the same technique I just described?
NB: Yes, he’s definitely in that mold of ‘here are the things we can say that are most effective.’ This is a life-saving tool that prevents the use of deadly force. That’s their very simple mission statement: “Protect truth, protect lives.” He says four or five of the same exact things over and over again. What works about rhetoric in his case is that most of the times when he has to say those four or five things, he says them in a very simple context. It’s a 12-second soundbite for the news. It’s a statement that’s issued to a newspaper. He doesn’t have to sit one-on-one with a person like me.
I didn’t go in with the goal of attack. I didn’t go in looking for “gotcha” moments. Going in, I think my biggest strength was genuine curiosity. If I tell you I want to understand your point of view, I’m going to sit there and try to understand your point of view. So I take everything at face value, and it works for twenty minutes. Over the course of a day, it becomes exhausting. Over the course of four hours, if you can only say the same things over and over and can’t really elaborate, then what are you left with?
T/F: Aside from length, how does your interviewing approach differ from broadcast journalism?
NB: If I were to do a TV news story about TASER International, I would want to go in with all the research done so that if Steve Tuttle says “A,” then I could counter with, “But that’s not true based on this thing.” But I’m making a film that is less about what and more about why. I’m more interested in motivation and process than I am in information.
T/F: I think the trailer is very clever, but I was surprised to see how it sort of throws Steve under the bus in its final seconds.
NB: These guys are true believers.They believe in this way of policing. And when you have a true believer, you have to treat them with the respect of a person going through their own thought process. Steve is a guy who lies for a living, but what is the reason behind the lie? Why does he feel compelled to lie? Because they clearly know at this point that their weapon kills people. It’s a question of what’s the biggest threat. Do we deserve to exist? Is the world a better place because we exist? Steve is not an evil person. He’s a complicated person dealing with complicated subject matter that he simplifies in his mind to protect the simplest goal, which is that we must survive because the world is better with us than without us.
T/F: You use a lot of deposition footage where John Burton, a lawyer featured prominently throughout the film, questions TASER co-founders Rick and Tom Smith. How does his approach to interviewing differ from your own?
NB: The movie is about this company—its history, its rise, its controversy and where it is today—and for the movie to work, they need a good adversary. The lawyers are great adversaries. They’re the only thing that truly threatens the company. When you listen to their interviewing style, you realize they’re there because they want to win. They do amazing work, but they wouldn’t sit there if it was a bad case. They’re taking cases they’re pretty confident they’re going to win. When they’re questioning, they’re trying to prove a very technical or specific point in legalese in order to win a case six months down the road in trial. To prove negligence. I’m not trying to prove anything. I’m trying to enlighten myself and the audience to a way of thinking, to a point of view that they’re not familiar with, that’s different from their own. The styles are different because the intentions are different.
T/F: When you were studying the lives of Rick and Tom Smith, did you find a way to relate to them on a personal level?
NB: Yes, there’s definitely a tunnel vision aspect to both of us. In many ways, this movie is a commentary about all of us. It’s about the way we see ourselves—the best version of ourselves—versus what we really are. And I constantly experienced that disconnect with my film. For years, I told myself this movie is going to be amazing for all these reasons. And you think that way because the sheer panic that sets in when you realize it’s not going as planned could put you on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Especially when you’ve put, like I have and like they did, your life into something. In order to deal with the collateral damage they created, TASER International started telling little lies that became much bigger over time. Once the consequences were no longer hypothetical, there were two ways out: own up to it, face it and admit that you made a mistake, or cling to the best version of yourself, that idea that you had when you started.
T/F: You started this film as a reaction to a very upsetting local news story. There’s been a lot of reporting on TASER International in the years since.
NB: The film is still timely and relevant. It’s not because policing issues are at the forefront of the news. This is a story that’s as old as human beings. It’s about the promise of technology, the promise of innovation, the desire to want things to succeed before we’ve fully through the consequences of those things because they’re new and the consequences are hypothetical. This is the ultimate absurd example because it’s an electric weapon. It has the most clear hypothetical ‘what can go wrong’ questions attached to it.
The film is also about what you do when you’re at this crossroads and your livelihood and your way of thinking is on the line. And why do we constantly take things at face value from the people who have the most to lose? That’s what most blows my mind. I don’t want to say everyone believed them, but the law enforcement community jumped on board with the company right away. And the company was the only one providing information about their product. Obviously they had the most to the lose yet were somehow the most trustworthy. I just don’t get it.
T/F: Killing Them Safely explores different problems, but it doesn’t offer any solutions.
NB: The traditional way of making an issue film, and what distributors typically want, is to offer the simplest presentation of that issue so people can then get active, sign a petition and feel good about themselves. There are films that should use this approach. But the problem with making a movie like that is that movies should be three-dimensional. They should be more than just bullet points. And what makes that impossible with Killing Them Safely is that it’s partly past tense. It’s retrospective. It’s about something that has already happened and the consequences of what’s already happened. There’s no way to rally the troops and take 500,000 tasers off the streets in the United States. That’s not possible. The movie is not going to make the same mistake by offering a simple solution when there isn’t one.
T/F: But do you want the film to have any sort of social impact?
NB: I certainly do broadly. I’m no anti-capitalist, but we’ve taken capitalism to this extreme now where we’re surprised when the actor with the most to lose acts in self-interest. And it’s not just the general public being surprised, it’s the fact that our regulatory system for something like tasers is basically the product liability system. Which inherently means someone is going to die before anyone does anything about this thing. This is an electrical weapon, it’s not a Lego. This is a weapon used in violent situations and yet it’s regulated the same way a toaster is. That goes back to an attitude of victim-blaming that we have and a distrust of the tort system that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. While there’s excessive litigation between individuals, corporations have insane protection from lawsuits. People have no idea how difficult it is to bring a product liability case and be successful. And it has to be that way because the system has to inspire ingenuity. Because most people aren’t making weapons, most people are making other products.
I don’t think there’s some sort of broad overhaul that needs to happen; taser is a very niche product. But I also think the film is a condemnation of the way we place trust in those acting in self-interest when they’re operating under the guise of business, job-provider, life-saver. We just fall for rhetoric way too easily. So it’s more about a general skepticism about people whose job it is to be skeptical— police administrators, politicians, city council members when they buy these weapons — than it is about writing a law that could prevent this sort of thing.
On November 18, True/False and the Jonathan B. Murray Center for Documentary Journalism at the University of Missouri are thrilled to co-present a special screening of the new documentary KILLING THEM SAFELY at the Missouri Theatre. Directed by local filmmaker Nick Berardini, KILLING THEM SAFELY is a gripping, nuanced study of Taser International as they confront charges that their eponymous product, which was sold to police forces as a non-lethal defense alternative, has killed civilians. KILLING THEM SAFELY premiered to great acclaim at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year (under its former title, TOM SWIFT AND HIS ELECTRIC RIFLE) and was picked up by distributor Sundance Selects, who will release the film in theaters nationwide. Berardini will participate in a post-screening Q&A at the November 18 screening, which starts at 7:30pm (doors open at 7pm). Tickets cost $10 and will be available at www.truefalse.org starting October 1.
In recent years, mid-Missouri’s growing film community has produced several outstanding works of nonfiction cinema, including Andrew Droz Palermo & Tracy Droz Tragos’ Sundance-winning RICH HILL and Chad Freidrichs’ THE PRUITT-IGOE MYTH. KILLING THEM SAFELY, directed by University of Missouri Journalism School graduate Berardini, co-edited and co-photographed by former Columbia resident Nathan Truesdell and produced by Columbia residents Brock Williams (Boxcar Films) and Jamie Gonçalves, is the latest example. Following its Tribeca premiere, the film screened at North America’s largest documentary festival, Hot Docs. Then, this summer, both Berardini and Gonçalves (a True/False core staff member) were named to Filmmaker Magazine’s esteemed 25 New Faces of Independent Film list.
For Berardini, the film is the result of a winding, all-consuming six-year journey. In August 2008, a police officer fired a taser at Stanley Harlan, a 23-year-old Moberly resident, who lost consciousness and was pronounced dead two hours later. Then an MU broadcast journalism student working at KOMU (underneath current Murray Center director Stacey Woelfel), Berardini reported on the incident. Shortly thereafter, he started production on the documentary, which took him all across the continent. Berardini learned extensive details about similar cases, acquired many hours of archival material and, crucially, secured an interview with Taser International Vice President Steve Tuttle, a peculiar and fascinating spokesman whose performance serves as the film’s backbone. Berardini then edited his engrossing, disturbing, sometimes darkly amusing film alongside True/False alumni Robert Greene (ACTRESS, FAKE IT SO REAL), who is now Filmmaker In Chief at the Murray Center.
At this year’s Boone Dawdle (August 15th – get your passes before they’re gone!), we’re embracing our inner headbangers and throwing a special metal-themed “aireoke” challenge for six lucky teams – and one very lucky audience. Beyond mere air guitar or lip synching, this metal mayhem calls upon our contestants to form an entire air band – riffing, strutting, and flailing in synch to a heavy metal anthem of their choice. Each band member plays along in time with the song (air guitar, air drums, air bass, air keyboard, etc), in what is sure to be an epic, high energy performance!
Before the film begins, these six “bands” of Dawdle attendees will strum, pound, and wail their way to victory. Winners will be selected by audience approval, with the film’s producer, Tom Davis, as the final judge and official tie-breaker. Victors will receive accolades and glory – as well as sweet prizes, like Busker Bands to the 2016 festival, and a totally sweet trophy from local artist and T/F stalwart Michael Marcum. Runners up will also get a (sweet) prize (TBA).
See the application for additional rules & guidance: HERE
Applications will be accepted between July 17 and August 3.
For inspiration, we’ll be posting some of our favorite videos on our Facebook page between now and the Dawdle. Check out this YouTube playlist to get you into the spirit of the event. You’ll find classic rock/metal videos, as well as a performance or two by Unlocking the Truth, the band featured in the Dawdle film.
That film, Breaking a Monster, is a heavy metal coming-of-age story. Discovered as pre-teens busking in Times Square, the three members of Unlocking the Truth deal not only with taking their first steps into the complexities of adulthood, but simultaneously making the leap to being professional musicians. With a savvy music industry vet as a manager, can they navigate their way to a million dollar record deal while avoiding the pitfalls of fame and the dark side of the music biz?
The screening will be followed by a Q&A with producer Tom Davis. For more pre-Dawdle fun, watch the short film that inspired Breaking a Monster:
True/False’s education program has been selected as one of the top 200 causes in the running for State Farm’s Neighborhood Assist program. Now we need your help to get us in to the top 40 so that we receive a $25,000 grant! Simply go here and cast your vote for True/False For All! You can vote each and every day until June 3. You get 10 votes a day, but if you check the box to use your remaining votes you can cast all ten at once.
Please vote often and help us spread the word about this campaign. It may seem silly, but this money will be very important to the future of our education program. In the days ahead, we’ll be sharing testimonials about what these efforts have meant to students and teachers in our community.
Over the past 12 years, our education program has offered unique field trips to thousands of students, organized hundreds of filmmaker meetings with students, teachers, and community groups and engaged thousands of people in the True Life Fund, our annual philanthropic effort thanking the subject of a documentary film. In the months and years to come we want to cultivate deeper, year-round ties with community organizations, create media-literate, artistic, savvy high school and college students who encounter other cultures in a meaningful way and nurture the appreciation of theatrical experience as important part of public life.
Here’s the program for tonight’s Gimme Truth! tonight at the Vimeo Theater at The Blue Note.
Johnny St. John
This disgraced former game show host continues on what appears to be an interminable comeback trail. Paroled once again to host his eighth consecutive Gimme Truth!, Johnny St. John is here to relive his glory years before scandal brought him to his knees. Marrying the sardonic wit of ‘60s-era quiz show hosts with the razzmatazz of a pool shark, St. John has collected restraining orders from at least eight T/F filmmakers. Please don’t report him, and join in when he starts singing his self-penned Gimme Truth! theme song. Though we don’t condone his methods, after seven years it’s hard to argue with results.
Ioanis Nugent- director of Spartacus & Cassandra
Ioanis (ee-wah-nees, we think) plays the part of our befuddled foreigner. He’s used to running amok with two Roma children and a no-nonsense trapeze artist. Here’s to hoping he finds something transferrable between that and this stage. We make no promises.
Lyric R. Cabral- director of (T)ERROR
Lyric is hell-bent on interrogating each of the contestants. She lived next to an FBI informant for years and unlike the rest of us, she not only knew but made a movie about it. By the end of the show she may very well discover all the secrets of our very own Johnny St. John.
Nick Broomfield- director of Tales of the Grim Sleeper
Don’t let his British accent throw you off–with his morbid curiosity he’s influenced American pop-culture about as much as anyone. We think forbidding him from taking the stage with his boom pole AKA bullshit detector should level out the playing field.
1. Snip Snip: A Story of Childhood Loss
dir. Mike Sleadd & Matt Schacht
2. Kinda Famous
dir. Diggy Splash & Justin Gregory
dir. Tucker Morrison & Aaron Persky
4. On the Fence
dir. Kate and Jimmy Moore
5. John B. Thompkins and the Special Shaving Equipment
dir. Pat Holt
6. My Name is Billie
dir. Livvy Runyon
7. Living History
dir. Jilly Dos Santos, Jess Christensen, Alex Isgriggs & Maddy Mueller
On Friday True/False expanded into more and more venues, events, screenings, concerts, panels and parties. This makes our job in the Fest Digest even more of a fool’s errand, but we’ll try to provide a little bit of cohesion to the day that was. Below you’ll find descriptions, images and video of just a few of the things that happened yesterday.
Before each program on Friday, fest-goers saw Jarred Alterman’s second microfilm “The Clockmaker”, in which “Pendulum” Bob King considers time as something we think we grasp, but is ultimately mysterious.
In the august setting of the Missouri Theatre, Friday began with an extraordinary event in T/F history. For the first time, T/F partnered with Columbia high schools to bring each and every 10th grader from Columbia public high schools to a special showing of What Happened, Miss Simone at Missouri theater.
photo by Sarah Hoffman
The film charts the life of the combustible, brilliant jazz singer Nina Simone. After the film, students asked questions to director Liz Garbus, who discussed Simone’s psychological afflictions and their complicated relationship with her ability to produce incredible art.
photo by Ryan Henriksen
Afterward, students migrated to the greater Orr St. area for our DIY (Do It Yourself!) Day! Orr St. Studios housed a large parade preparation workshop, with glitter galore, and mask and banner creation for the March March. Smaller individual breakout sessions focused on filmmaking, music, screen-printing and advice from those with success in creating a life of artistic expression.
photo by Ryan Henriksen
photo by Ryan Henriksen
In an attempt to dig deeper into the minds of the many brilliant guests we bring to town, we put on a series of conversations at the Reynolds Journalism Institute. In our first, panelists Kevin B. Lee (Transformers: The Premake), Zhao Qi (producer of The Chinese Mayor) and Dean Ming Yang and Dr. Zhenzheng Wang discussed the state of documentary filmmaking in the People’s Republic of China and different models that filmmakers there have attempted to try to reach audiences.
photo by Corey Ransberg
True/False presents but a single award each year. Our True Vision Award honors the career of a working filmmaker who has made significant contributions to nonfiction cinema. This year that honor went to Adam Curtis, who for over twenty years at the BBC has reevaluated history through brilliant archival montages.
At noon Friday Curtis presented a unique program at our second home, Ragtag Cinema, titled Unstoryfiable: Where Journalism Fails and Modern Power Begins. Talking in-between short films, segments and clips, Curtis’ wide-ranging, audacious and frequently humorous presentation argued that new systems of power, grounded in predictive systems for risk management, hide in plain sight because they are impossible to capture with either narrative or imagery.
photo by Jarred Gastreich
Immediately following Unstoryfiable, Adam was whisked away to the Missouri Theatre, where Paul presented him with the True Vision Award ahead of a screening of his new film Bitter Lake, which examines the tortured history of Afghanistan in light of a fateful agreement between the United States and the House of Saud.
photo by Billie Stock
When the bright and sunny afternoon Friday afternoon rolled around it was time for the March March, in which we usher in a new season with a joyous parade down the center of downtown Columbia, featuring music, costumes, puppets and more.
photo by Sarah Hoffman
photos by Ryan Henriksen
Meanwhile at the Picturehouse, it was the first screening of Spartacus & Cassandra, an artful blend of verite intimacy and lyrical interludes about the lives of two Roma children at a crossroads. Director Loanis Nuguent and subject Camille Brisson were on hand afterwards for a spirited Q and A.
photo by Corey Ransberg
And at Rhynsburger Theatre, Sam Green presented The Measure of All Things, a constantly evolving live-documentary featuring live musical accompaniment. As still images and video clips appeared on screen, Green narrated a interwoven series of tales inspired by entries in The Guinness Book of World Records, including the time the world’s second tallest man saved the life of a dolphin.
photo by Whitney Buckner
A little later filmmakers and festgoers come into close contact at the Oddfellows Lodge during Campfire Stories, an intimate event where filmmakers tell stories of “the scene that got away.” In one of this year’s entries, Khalik Allah of Field Niggas described gaining and then losing a subject, and a friend. Our friends at CAT TV captured his tale on video.
The night ended at Tonic with the @CTION Party. By the time midnight rolled around, the dance floor was crammed with bodies in motion to the sounds provided by DJs Gold E Mouf and Cousin Cole.
photo by Jarred Gastreich
Friday’s gone, but there’s so much more T/F to come. Time to head out back into the festival. But before we do, let’s take one last look at Friday through a video recap, amazingly created overnight by the diligent T/F Video Team.
T/F Opening night brings with it adrenaline and jitters, followed by the sudden ecstasy of being once more in a crowd of fest-goers and a feeling of that excitement echoed back. No matter your preparation, True/False only truly exists in the present, right now.
Before all of the opening night films, the first of Jarred Alterman’s T/F 2015 microfilms examining our concept of time screened. “The Astrophysicist” introduces us to Angela Speck, who explains how, in her extra-intuitive domain of inquiry, time becomes a measurement of distance.
The promise of a new True/False weekend manifests in our annual fancy pants gala, The Jubilee. Costumed T/F fans packed the august Missouri Theatre, enjoying drinks, hors d’oeuvres, the joyful noise created by a menagerie of performing buskers.
photo by Jarred Gastreich
photo by Jarred Gastreich
Eventually, we all found our seats for a screening of Best of Enemies a film which offers fascinating context to the vital archival footage of William F. Buckley and Gore Vidal’s seminal televised debates of the late 60s. Afterwards co-director Morgan Neville tried to explain the feeling of finally sharing a film with an audience after being alone with it for so long. He also said he wants to provoke discussion about “civil and uncivil discourse.”
photo by Megan Stilley
Later at the Vimeo Theater at The Blue Note, Morgan Knibbe’s impressive feature debut Those Who Feel the Fire Burning screened for the very first time in the United States. By forcing us into the perspective of a hovering ghost, the film aims to “throw the audience into the deep” of the difficult and often hopeless lives of recent immigrants to Europe. Afterwards, Knibbe talked with the crowd and T/F programmer Chris Boeckmann about wanting to find a poetic approach to this problem that went “further than the numbers and factual information.”
photo by Taylor Blatchford
Opening night came to an end at Cafe Berlin with the Toast/False busker showcase, featuring the bittersweet music of Cindy Woolf & Mark Bilyeu, Jack Grelle & Ryan Koenig and The Strangled Darlings, seen below.
photo by Corey Ransberg
Thursday night was but a warm-up for what is in store for us today. But before we plunge ahead, let’s take one more look at the excitement of opening night via the T/F Video Team, whose work features Miss Jubilee & The Humdingers’ song “I Found A New Baby”.
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.