The T/F 2013 “Revolving Doors” panel brought together two filmmakers with work traversing the fuzzy boundary between fiction and documentary. Sarah Gavron spent a year in a remote Greenland community creating her doc Village at the End of the World (T/F 2013) and is currently developing Suffragette, a fictional film staring Carey Mulligan as an early feminist foot solider. Joshua Marston is responsible for the grounded, reality-infused films Maria Full of Grace and The Forgiveness of Blood. In conversation with moderator Eugene Hernandez, the pair tried to discover just what the two branches of cinema have to say to one another. How do fictional films capture the documentary “sense of discovery”? How does a documentary “honestly” utilize fictional elements? Do “based on a true story” movies cheat?
Do film critics approach documentaries differently than fiction? Should they? When evaluating nonfiction, do critics mistakenly elevate “importance” over form, story over storytelling? Is it fair to always expect documentaries to be art?
These are just a few of the questions taken up by moderator Robert Greene and critics Eric Hynes, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, Miriam Bale and Vadim Rizov in our panel “The Revolution Will Be Criticized: Do Critics Miss the Boat on Nonfiction Filmmaking?” which took place at the Odd Fellows Lodge during T/F 2013.
This panel was occasioned Robert Greene’s Cinematic Nonfiction 2012 piece for Hammer to Nail. In this article, Greene expressed frustration over Manohla Dargis’s New York Times review of Only the Young (T/F 2012), a review he considered symptomatic of critical culture’s failure to understand documentary not as a rigid genre but as a “way of seeing”.
The entire panel is available in the video embedded below thanks to the work of our friends at Columbia Access Television. You can also take this entire conversation with you as an audio podcast by downloading an mp3 here.
Take one last look back at the medley of events that comprised the 2013 Boone Dawdle. This excellent video was filmed by Chelsea Myers and Tim Pilcher of Tiny Attic Productions and features “I’m Going Home” by this summer’s musical guests Yes, Ma’am.
We hope to see you all out on the trail August 16, 2014!
I am Breathing (T/F 2013) gracefully presents the final six months in the life of Neil Platt, a Scottish architect, husband and father enduring the indignities of Motor Neuron Disease. We watch Neil, confined to a chair by his illness, come to terms with his mortality and construct a legacy for his wife and infant son. The film is built around entries in Neil’s blog The Plattitude, a fount of down-to-earth wisdom capturing Neil’s humor, courage and inspiring resolve.
I Am Breathing opens today at the IFC Center in NYC with more cities soon to follow.
Co-director Emma Davie participated in our cozy get-together, Campfire Stories, where she shared an unforgettable story about “the tape in the shoe box under the editing suite”, a final message from Neil the she and co-director Morag McKinnon couldn’t bear to look at. Campfire Stories was filmed by our good friends at CAT TV.
One of the most unforgettable films ever to screen at True/False was our 2011 True Life Fund selection, The Interrupters. Steve James’s documentary introduced us to violence interrupters working in the troubled streets of Chicago. These interrupters are part of a program created by epidemiologist Gary Slutkin called Ceasefire (now renamed Cure Violence), based on the thesis that violence should be approached like an infectious disease, where the goal is to prevent each individual case of transmission.
The film’s deep humanism comes from the life stories of the violence interrupters themselves: Ameena Matthews, Cobe Williams and Eddie Bocanegra. All former gang members, the interrupters don’t shy away from their violent pasts, but instead utilize their reputations and gained knowledge to help their communities. We watch as they courageously interject themselves into intense situations, speaking blunt truths and directly confronting the drive for revenge or respect, passions that so frequently lead to acts of violence.
The 114 minute cut of The Interrupters is available to watch for free online through the PBS series Frontline.
The Interrupters was inspired by co-producer Alex Kotlowitz’s 2008 New York Times Magazine article “Blocking the Transmission of Violence”. Director Steve James was moved by this piece because of his personal connection to Curtis Gates, who was senselessly killed in a 2001 shooting. Curtis was the older brother of William Gates, one of the principle subjects of James’s 1994 film Hoop Dreams. Universally recognized as a documentary masterpiece, Hoop Dreams follows two basketball prodigies from poor neighborhoods in Chicago who dream of achieving fame and fortune through careers in the NBA. You can watch this essential film for free streaming online through Hulu.
Steve James returned to T/F this year to participate in our annual event Campfire Stories, an intimate gathering where filmmakers share tales about compelling scenes that didn’t make it into their films. In the clip below, James recounts an incident at a gas station which illustrates the violence interrupters problematic relationship with the police. Campfire Stories was captured on video by our friends at Columbia Access Television.
For the fourth year in a row, the Boone Dawdle, our summer excursion and fundraiser, was a rollicking good time. We want to send a hearty thank you to everyone that made August 17, 2013 a day to remember. Thank you to the dawdlers of all kinds: riders, party-goers, sponsors, musicians, filmmakers, guests, volunteers and staff.
A legion of volunteers once again pitched in with their time and talents. Among them were our photo team, Stephen Bybee, Kevin Dingman and Ryan Henriksen. We’ll be looking back through the images they captured. If you want to see even more pics of the Dawdle, check out their Facebook photo albums here, here and here.
Things got underway on Saturday afternoon with some important assistance from our friends at Walt’s Bicycle, Fitness and Wilderness. They offered all of the riders a tune-up before our departure.
After everyone signed up, we struck off westward down the trail for a ride across Boone County. Our meandering 16-mile trip eventually took us from Columbia to Les Bourgeois outside Rocheport.
True/False wouldn’t feel like True/False without music and the spirited buskers who create it. Popping up here and there among the trees were Dubb Nubb, Ruth Acuff, The Flood Brothers, Googolplexia, Lizzie Wright Super Spaceship and The Onions. Also contributing a cheerful noise were the Branson-based performers the Lennon Brothers.
Other pleasant interruptions in our journey through the woods included games, a trivia contest, an advice machine, a lunar explorer photo cut-out and snacks and drinks courtesy of our culinary contributors.
We also got our first chance to meet our special guest Christopher Carson, the star of the evening’s film, Lunarcy! Christopher intends to be the first human being to live his life on the moon. He shared his bold vision for lunar colonization with characteristic gusto and wit.
At the end of the long, fun-filled trip, we faced the final daunting hill. A little encouragement was definitely in order, and cheerleaders from Rock Bridge, Hickman and Battle High Schools were kind enough to oblige.
Waiting for us in Rocheport was a sumptuous spread prepared by our friends Chelsea, Josh and Curtis and the rest of the amazing people at Les Bourgeois Winery. After grabbing some food and drink, we found seats, relaxed and hung-out on the beautiful limestone bluff overlooking the Missouri River.
Next, we were treated to a concert by Yes, Ma’am. The group joined us all the way from the streets of the Big Easy to share their authentic blend of gritty country, pounding blues and old fashioned rock-in-roll.
And before the film began, the T/F production crew treated us to a magnificent fireworks display.
The 2013 Boone Dawdle film was Lunarcy! Simon Ennis’s hilarious and inspiring documentary debut introduces us to a series of passionate dreamers who have built lives around the moon and its place in human destiny. After we watched the film out under the heavens, Simon and the subject Christopher Carson brought our evening to fitting conclusion with a charming and earnest Q and A.
Thank you again to everyone mentioned above. As inspiring as what happened in these photographs was, we assure you what went on behind the scenes was even more remarkable. Our tech team was up working late the night before, transforming the bluffs into an outdoor cinema. Volunteers hauled water and gear into the middle of nowhere, loaded countless bikes into trucks for the trip back to CoMo and stayed up past 2 am cleaning up the party. Our sherpa team stepped up in a big way, hauling bikes up the hill for hours. First Student provided bus transportation to get everyone back home for the night. And our dedicated staff put in the long hours at the Lab, making all of the details shine.
And, of course, our crazy schemes wouldn’t amount to anything without our sponsors. This year’s Dawdle was made possible by generous support of Delta Systems, Walt’s Bicycle, Fitness and Wilderness, Mountain Valley Spring Water, Les Bourgeois Vineyards, 102.3 BXR, The Columbia Daily Tribune and the Courtyard Marriott Columbia.
Together we can accomplish incredible things. Please remember, the Stars Are Ours!
This Wednesday, August 28th True/False is partnering with the Downtown Community Television Center and Filmwax to present Never Not Working: Shorts on Labor from True/False. This free program (RSVP for tickets) will be held at DCTV on Lafayette Street in New York City.
In anticipation of Labor Day, we’ll be screening short documentaries depicting labor as an inevitable part of our lives, whether enjoyable and fulfilling, difficult and necessary, and/or both. These five selections were culled from a decade of our programming by T/F shorts programmer Karen Cirillo and T/F co-director Paul Sturtz, both of whom will be in attendance. They’ll be joined by Musa Syeed and Yoni Brook of A Son’s Sacrifice and Marcelo de Oliveira, sound designer of The Breadmakers, for a post-screening Q and A.
The films in this program are:
Tina Delivers a Goat (T/F 2013, USA, Joe Callander, 2 min)
Through taking council with a local village elder, Tina discovers the benefits of a goat, delivers the goat, says hi to mama and papa and behbeh, takes a photo, and leaves. Global generosity in all its blunt simplicity.
El Cerco (T/F 2007, Catalonia, Ricardo Íscar/Nacho Martin, 12 min)
As the fishing boats close in on the tuna, the tension escalates until the men capture their prizes.
Breadmakers (T/F 2008, UK, Yasmin Fedda, 11 min)
At a unique Edinburgh bakery, a community of workers with learning disabilities makes a variety of organic breads for daily delivery to local shops and cafés.
A Son’s Sacrifice (T/F 2007, USA, Yoni Brook, 26 min)
A young American Muslim struggles to take over his father’s halal slaughterhouse in New York City.
Il Capo (T/F 2011, Italy, Yuri Ancarani, 15 min)
A choreographed, spooky look at a marble quarry, this film features the best use of a monolith and upward pan since Kubrick’s 2001. Man, machines, nature come together in an elemental masterpiece.
To create the authentic festival atmosphere, T/F 2013 buskers Mountain Animation will be warming up the house before the lights go down. Below you’ll find a sample of the Brooklyn-based power duo performing in Union Square. They were also recently named among the seven best busking acts in NYC by the Gothamist.
New Yorkers, we hope to see you there. Remember, tickets are free, but going fast. RSVP soon if you want to join us.
One of our proudest creations is our signature game show, Gimme Truth! Every year a panel of three filmmakers gathers in front of a rowdy crowd at The Blue Note to watch a series of short films and try to determine if they are 100% True or 100% False. The whole event is presided over by the irreplaceable master of ceremonies Johnny St. John.
Thanks to our loyal media partner CAT TV you can relive this year’s edition and play along with judges Bill Ross (Tchoupitoulas), Sergio Oksman (A Story for the Modlins) and reigning champion Heidi Ewing (Detropia). In this first clip, you’ll be evaluating the veracity of “Dem Bones” by LeeAnne Lowry and Kirsten Izzett, which explains the effects of a strange medical condition. Good Luck!
Campfire Stories has become an indispensable part True/False. Every year, eight filmmakers take part in this intimate little gathering. They munch on smores and share stories about that one great scene that for whatever reason just didn’t make their film.
The 2013 edition, held in the cozy Odd Fellows Lodge, kicked off with Jarred Alterman. He spoke about Dear Valued Guests, a short he co-directed with T/F co-conspirator Paul Sturtz. Guests takes us back to the strange final days of the Regency hotel, which housed countless True/False guests in downtown Columbia. With this oddly charming structure slated for demolition, a group of artists takes over the top floor for one last crazy party.
In his Campfire Story, Alterman recounts how Guests was nearly aborted, only to be rescued by a heroic if chemically enhanced maintenance worker named Rainey. Check it out in this video captured by the team from our media partner CAT TV.
Dear Valued Guests had its New York premiere as part of the Rooftop Films “Industriance: Black Out” shorts program. Here’s a short trailer.
CoMo Girls Rock! is a summer camp dedicated to empowering girls ages 12-18 through creative expression, musical exploration and performance. Camp founders Luci Cook, Leola Davis and Amanda Rainey were inspired by the documentary Girls Rock! (T/F 2008) to create a local chapter of the nationwide alliance. CoMo Girls Rock!’s first ever week-long session just wrapped up yesterday, and now the campers get to show off what they’ve learned. The Girls Rock! showcase begins at 7 tonight at Mojo’s. All proceeds from the show will go towards next year’s camp, so come on out and show your support!