Fest Digest #1: Here We Go!

Welcome to the T/F 2013 Fest digest, a running report of everything (well, at least some things) going on around town during these four crazy days. For more coverage of T/F 2013 we highly recommend the Columbia Daily Tribune’s excellent True/False hub.

As Paul and David point out in this year’s welcome, True/False wouldn’t and couldn’t exist without our army of volunteers. We received a convincing reminder earlier this week when a winter storm dumped several inches of snow on Columbia. Our volunteers answered the call and armed with shovels cleared sidewalks and alleyways.

photo by Sarah Hoffman

Thanks to their valiant efforts, we are now officially underway. Our box office at the corner of Hitt and Broadway is buzzing with excitement.

And our first official screening, Village At the End of the World, has begun at the Forrest Theater!

photo by Catherine Meagher

We’ll have more to report real soon. In the meantime, check out our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more images and updates.

Posted February 28, 2013

Panels Preview

Every year True/False attracts an amazing collection of the sharpest minds in nonfiction film. Q and As are great, but to get the most out of this assembly of intellects you’ll need to check out our panels. This series of eight conversations runs Friday through Sunday at The Odd Fellows Lodge at the southwest corner of Tenth and Walnut. All of these discussions are free and open to the public. Don’t miss your chance to hear in depth from filmmakers and other guests as they bounce ideas off of one another and probe deeper into the science and art of documentary filmmaking.

Picture from the "Off the Screen and Into the Streets" Panel at T/F 2011

Things get underway on Friday at 10:30 AM with “The Revolution Will Be Criticized: Do Critics Miss the Boat on Nonfiction Filmmaking?” Robert Greene, director of Kati with an I and Fake It So Real, moderates this discussion on the state of documentary criticism with critics Eric Hynes, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, Miriam Bale and Vadim Rizov. This panel is inspired in part by Greene’s recent Hammer to Nail piece on cinematic nonfiction, in which he wrote of film critics:

What are they missing? Well, almost no one is talking seriously about the collapsing walls between fiction, nonfiction and art cinema. Nonfiction cinema would best be described as a way of seeing and less a rigid and prescriptive “genre.” The most interesting documentaries push narrative bounds, re-shoot situations (as opposed to the somewhat tired practice of reenactment), play with the idea of performance, etc. They break the rules. Most interesting fiction, to me, is rooted in the observational camera, staging the action with the soul of cinema verité. How do so-called fiction and nonfiction films speak to each other? How do the stories being told or the situations being captured change according to approach? No one is asking these questions.

This idea of fiction and nonfiction films speaking to one another will be taken up again at 12:30 with the “Revolving Doors” panel. Sarah Gavron, director of the documentary Village at the End of the World and Josh Marston, director of the fictional films The Forgiveness of Blood and Maria Full of Grace will attempt to elucidate what their disciplines can teach each other.

Friday’s panels conclude at 2:30 with “Military Secrets: Filming in the Armed Forces” moderated by Steve James of Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters and most relevantly The War Tapes. Participates Rick Rowley and Sebastian Junger both have war related films in this year’s festival (Dirty Wars and Which Way is the Front Line From Here respectively) while the third panelist Kirby Dick recently captured an Independent Spirit Award for best documentary for his film Invisible War. Despite their shared interest in military matters, these are all very different films and the contrasts should make for an interesting exchange.

Saturday things get started again at 10:30 with “Docs in the Land of the Short Attention Span”. Panelists Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar are documentary veterans with impressive filmographies. Their latest collaboration is Reinvention Stories, a just launched web-based interactive film about Dayton, Ohio. In this panel they’ll share what they learned from this project and ponder the promise and peril the internet represents for documentary film.

Next, at 1:00 it’s “Strongmen and Dissidents: Filming in the Former Soviet Union” moderated by Dana O’Keefe of Vladimir Putin in Deep Concentration. This discussion will explore the difficulties of documentary filmmaking in the face of creeping authoritarianism. The panelists are Tinatin Gurchiani of The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear, Maxim Pozdorovkin of Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer, Askold Kurov of Winter, Go Away! and the director of Secret Screening Red.

Saturday wraps up at 3:00 with “DIY or DIE! Do-It-Yourself as a Way of Life”, a panel especially relevant to this year’s theme, “The Collective Architecture of the Impossible”. Panelists will discuss the importance of the DIY ethos both inside and outside of the film world. They are Emma Dessau of the Folk to Folk music project, Emily Hemeyer of the St.Louis based art collective Spore, Thomas Sallings of Columbia’s newest music venue, the Hair Hole and the director of Secret Screening Green. Moderated by Julie Shapiro of the Third Coast Film Festival.

Our final two panels take place on Sunday. First at 1 it’s “The Future of What? Staring at the Horizon of Nonfiction Filmmaking.” Ben Fowlie of the Camden International Film Festival will interrogate three filmmakers, each with a singular approach to the creative treatment of actuality. They are Signe Byrge Sørensen of The Act of Killing, Josh Fox of Gasland and Zachary Heinzlinger of Cutie and the Boxer.

Finally, things come to an end at 3:30 with “Every Cut is a Lie: Editing the Truth”. Moderated by David France, director of last year’s Oscar-nominated T/F hit How to Survive a Plague and recent New York Times interviewee, this panel explores the editor’s manipulative art of reassembling reality. Panelists are Robin Schwartz of America’s Parking Lot, Bill Ross of Tchoupitoulas and the editor of Secret Screening Orange.



Art and Design Preview

This year we are celebrating ten years of True/False with “The Collective Architecture of the Impossible”. Artist Erik Buckham’s fanciful favela is the perfect visual representation of our shared achievement, the result of the hard work and joyful energy thousands of volunteers, musicians, staff members, artists, filmmakers, sponsors and attendees have contributed to the festival over the course of a decade.

This idea of Collective Architecture speaks forcefully to the work of our design team. Every year the combined efforts of visiting artists, production staff and assisting volunteers transform downtown Columbia for four magical days, creating a utopia where new discoveries lie around every corner. The Art and Design page has a complete a venue by venue, installation by installation run down of everything happening around town. You also shouldn’t miss Rebecca Allen’s stunning photo essay of our production team hard at work.

Downtown’s main artery is Alley A, running from the Tiger Hotel over to Ragtag Cinema, and cutting right behind our box office. “Stilted”, California-based artist Yulia Pinkusevich’s ambitious take on The Collective Architecture of the Impossible, will cover the length of this passageway. You should visit Yulia’s homepage for numerous pictures and videos of her extensive body of work. Here’s a picture of small piece of “Stilted”.

The Mud Stencils, Jesse Graves and Morgan Herum, will be returning for their third True/False, decorating Columbia’s sidewalks and walls with their environmentally friendly street art. Last year they created this excellent bee mural next to Willie’s.

Moveable Type is setting up shop in the parking lot of the Picturehouse, our theater at the Missouri United Methodist Church. Kyle Durrie and her letterpressing 1982 Chevy van will be making custom prints using methods that have been around since the 1500s. Here’s a poster they made last year.

Right around the corner on the Picturehouse lawn members of St. Louis’s SPORE Collective are building “Migratory Hive Project” entirely out of reclaimed materials. This project will be massive when finished, but be sure to note the details.

For the Oddfellows Lounge Chicago based artist Theresa Vishnevetskaya created a piece called “Organ No. 2″, a hypnotic aggregation of ambient light, animatronics and interactive sound. See for yourself in this brief demonstration.

At the Southeast corner of Ninth and Cherry Gabe Meyer and Brian Doss are presenting “From Here To Home”, their dumpster-turned-work-of-art. This piece challenges traditional notions of what makes a house a home while tempting passers-by to curl up and take a nap beneath the warm glow of discarded plastic bags.

Artist Greg Orloff, the man responsible for both Ragtag’s digital conversion robot Lumen (hanging out at The Missouri Theater) and T/F 2010′s Time Machine, is turning a mishmash of gadgets and light into a film reel in the lobby of Jesse Hall. Meanwhile designers Gabrielle Parish, Audrey Keiffer, Madeline Carl and Dan Bugnitz are transforming our box office into an interactive playground of the miniature and the gargantuan.

photo by Stephen Bybee

At The Blue Note Glenn Rice’s returning sea creatures will be joined by coral incrusted TVs featuring video from the Chicago Film Archives. And Camellia Cosgray’s beautiful lighted megamap continues to adorn the wall of The Globe.

All of this just scratched the surface, as each and every venue at T/F has its own character and design. Be sure to refer back to the Art and Design page of your program all weekend to help navigate the art of True/False.



Posted February 26, 2013

T/F 2013 Concerts Preview

Attending True/False, it is easy to get caught up in the mad scramble to see as many films as possible. But T/F is about more than just films, and sometimes its good to take a break and diversify your festival experience. One excellent way is our music showcases, your chance to get the most out of the amazing collection of buskers the fest brings to town.

This year’s concerts take place at classic T/F venues such as Mojo’s, the Blue Fugue, Cafe Berlin and Eastside Tavern. But we’ve also added afternoon shows at two of downtown Columbia’s hippest hangouts, Sparky’s Homemade Ice Cream and Maude Vintage.

Things kick-off one night early on Wednesday, February 27 at Eastside Tavern. The rockin’ late-night bill features Cloud Dog, Rip Rap and the psychedelic Wooden Indian Burial Ground from Portland, Oregon.

For something a little more laid back, swing by the Blue Fugue on Thursday for “Tree/Folk”. This show boasts an impressive collection of singer-songwriters: Jack Grelle and the Johnson Family, James Miska & Lake Mary and Ruth Acuff whose beautiful voice you can hear below performing “Wind Chime”.

Meanwhile over at Cafe Berlin you can enjoy an experimental line-up: Flux Bikes, Paul Rucker,  Dark Blue Dark Green and the enigmatic Syna So Pro.

Friday, things really get hoppin’. At two in the afternoon you can pick up a scoop at Sparky’s Homemade Ice Cream and catch Meeyoo and La Operación Jarocha performing traditional Mexican and American folk tunes. That night at Cafe Berlin The Flood Brothers, Yva Las Vegass, Jerusalem and the Starbaskets and The Hooten Hallers are going to bring down the house, while over at Mojo’s you can see Hawk and a Hacksaw and returning T/F favorites David Wax Museum.

Late that night, the eclectic thirty-plus-piece marching band Mucca Pazza will perform a show free for all passholders at The Blue Note. They’re sure to be riding high after leading our rambunctious March March parade earlier that day.

On Saturday things get underway early again. This time the two p.m. show is at Maude Vintage. It’s an instrumental world music showcase featuring Hema, Prahlad and Nathaniel Braddock. That night the Blue Fugue has another folky bill, bringing together Cindy Woolf & Mark Bilyeu, Les Trois Coups and the soaring melodies of Lizzie Wright Super Spaceship.

Over at Cafe Berlin you can catch Mountain Animation, Yes Ma’am, Run On Sentence and T/F mainstays from Portland, Maine, Toughcats.

True/False Saturday always comes to a fitting end at Mojo’s A-Go-Go, and 2013 is no exception. This year’s edition features Husk, (the side project of the Powell brother’s of The Believers), local psychedelic rockers Hott Lunch and So Many Dynamos. The later are St. Louis based indie rockers who recently celebrated ten years as a band.

Finally, on Sunday, T/F 2013 comes to a bittersweet end with Buskers Last Stand. If you happen to be attending the closing night film at Jesse Hall, there’ll be a procession of buskers leading fest-goers back downtown, so we can all meet up in the lobby of the Missouri Theater and bring the festival to a close together.

Be sure to head on over to the concerts page for a complete listing with start times and ticket information and the musicians page to read up on the bands and listen to more music. And we’ll see you at the shows!


Posted February 12, 2013

Rodriguez at Roots N Blues N BBQ

Forty two years after the release of his unappreciated masterpiece Cold Fact, Sixto Rodriguez finally arrived in Columbia, MO last weekend on Friday September 21st.  The Detroit based singer-songwriter performed for thousands in Peace Park as part of the 6th Annual Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival, which also featured performances by Marty Stuart, John Mayal, Al Green, and dozens more.

The strange and wonderful story of Rodriguez’s resurrection is the subject of Malik Bendjelloul’s documentary Searching for Sugar Man (T/F 2012). It will be playing at our sister theater Ragtag Cinema for another week. It’s hero, South African fan Stephen “Sugar” Segerman, still operates the official Rodriguez website at You can listen film’s official soundtrack on Spotify.

Last Friday’s set was divided in two. Rodriguez took the stage backed by Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes, allowing him to perform full, soaring compositions of songs like “Sugar Man” and “Crucify Your Mind”. The second half featured Rodriguez onstage alone with his guitar. This section mixed a healthy dose of covers, such as the Little Willie John Blues classic “Fever”, with stripped down renditions of Rodriguez’s original material, like the always moving “I Think of You”.

Rodriguez’s lyrics have the effortless complexity of all great poetry, and his music feels imminently relevant in its personal and political resonance, despite being written decades ago. Between songs, Sixto appeared on stage much as he does in Sugar Man: sincere, decent, and unassuming. He kidded around with the audience, telling stories and silly jokes, always with a smile. “Want to know the secret of life?” he asked the audience early on. “All you got to do is keep breathing in and breathing out.”

-Dan Steffen

Posted September 28, 2012

Sugar Man and Rodriguez coming to Columbia

True/False 2012 came to superb finish at the historic Missouri Theater with Searching for Sugar Man, Swedish director Malik Bendjelloul’s telling of the stranger than fiction story of Detroit based singer-songwriter Rodriguez. Releasing a mere two records in the early 70s, Rodriguez attracted only a cult following in the States, but improbably inspired the anti-apartheid movement half a world away through his haunting, soul searching music. Then he disappeared, leaving in his wake a host of rumors and myths.

Now, both the film and Rodriguez himself are coming to Columbia. Searching for Sugar Man opens on Friday, September 14th at Ragtag Cinema and Rodriguez himself will be headlining the opening night of Roots N Blues N BBQ one week later on September 21st.

In the six months since the fest, this remarkable story has reverberated throughout the world. The doc has received rave reviews from the critics, including Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-TimesElla Taylor of NPR, and Mark Kermode of the BBC, seen below.

Bendjelloul and Rodriguez have given a number of interviews, including one with Little White Lies magazine where they explain how the film came to be. Sugar Man’s soundtrack is available streaming on Spotify or for purchase on Amazon. And just a few weeks back Rodriguez performed “Crucify Your Mind” on the Late Show with David Lettermen.

Our friends at the Columbia Daily Tribune are offering a chance to win tickets to both the film and concert. We hope to see you there!

Posted September 8, 2012

Thank You to Everyone Who Made the Boone Dawdle Happen

The 2012 Boone Dawdle was a rip-roaring success, and, we hope a real hoot for all who participated. Thanks everyone who made the day hum. We’d like to thank our guests Jodie Wille and Isis Aquarian for sharing the fascinating story of The Source , music headliners CAVE for a far-out open-air concert + Jerusalem and the Starbaskets, The Onions, Creek Bottom Dwellers, Dubb Nubb, The Flood Brothers, Yod Squad, Mr. Nasti, and Sean Witzman for sharing music along the trail. Thank you Curtis, Chelsea, and Aaron at Les Bourgeois, gracious hosts who offered up delicious food and drink.

Once again, a dedicated, exuberant army of volunteers came together and donated a day of hard work. To all who volunteered, please know that True/False would not be possible without you. In addition, our Boone Dawdle core staff put in the even longer hours at the lab and along the trail. Thank you to Doug Sonnenberg (tech and production), Camellia Cosgray (trailside surprises), Amanda Rainey (music), Rob Gaskin (logistics & volunteers), Tom Seagraves (bike load), Arin Liberman (registration & raffle), Tracy Lane and Sarah Waddill-Miller (sponsorship), Glenn Rice, Tracy Greever-Rice, Jamie Kroll, Justin Arft (production), Josh Oxenhandler (sherpa team), and Amanda Vandertuig (merch).

Finally a big tip of the hat to our generous sponsors for keeping True/False pedaling along the trail – bravo Boone Hospital Center, Delta Systems, Walt’s Bicycle, Mountain Valley Spring Water, Les Bourgeois Vineyards, Hampton Inn and Suites, 102.3 BXR, and the Columbia Daily Tribune. We’ll see you all at T/F 2013 in just 189 days!

And be sure to mark your calendars for next year’s Boone Dawdle: August 17, 2013.

photo by Ryan Henriksen

photo by Ryan Henriksen

photo by Ryan Henriksen

photo by Ryan Henriksen

Posted August 23, 2012

Another Glimpse of The Source

Here’s another glimpse of The Source, the film playing under the stars at the 2012 Boone Dawdle in just eleven days. This clip introduces the The Source Family’s musical experimentation.

Come see the whole story on Saturday, August 18th. Ticket prices increase this Friday, so get yours soon.

Posted August 7, 2012


Campfire Stories has quickly become an essential part of True/False. Each fest a crowd gathers in the Odd Fellows Lodge to eat smores and listen as filmmakers swap tales of the scene that got away. This cozy little gathering is made possible by the support of our friends at HBO Documentary Films. If you have yet to experience this event, you’re in luck. Campfire Stories 2012 is now available on Vimeo.

This year, seven presenters step forward into the intimate glow of our not so real fire. Starlee Kine of This American Life muses about the first day of Junior High and the lifelong upside of a moment getting away. Valerie Veatch of Me at the Zoo recounts a creepy ghost at the periphery of her film. Rachel Grady of Detropia reads some of her correspondence with an African dictatorship. Karim El Hakim of 1/2 Revolution tells the harrowing tale of his arrest during the Egyptian revolution. Katherine Fairfax Wright and Malika Zouhali-Worrall talk about how the scene they never shot became an internet meme. And Matthew Akers of Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present explains how the lost scene can help to change a film for the better.


Posted July 13, 2012


In just nine months from now, on February 28, 2013, the tenth iteration of the True/False Film Fest will begin. Words cannot capture the gratitude we feel for the community, attendees, volunteers, and sponsors that have allowed our crazy dream to continue growing over the course of a decade. To celebrate we are launching DocuMemories: A True/False Retrospective at our sister theater, Ragtag Cinema. On the last Monday of each month between now and T/F 2013 we will be screening a film from a previous Fest that we feel repays another look. The screenings will be introduced by members of the True/False staff and feature a post film Skype chat with filmmakers and/or subjects.

DocuMemories will kick-off this Monday, June 25 at Ragtag Cinema’s 14th birthday party with a free screening of The King of Kong (T/F 2007). Festivities begin at 5:30pm, with Sparky’s-ice-cream-Uprise-cookie-sandwiches, Schlafly beer, Golden Barrel wines, and Mountain Valley spring water for all. The film will follow at 6:30.

The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters tells the timeless story of the struggle betwixt good and evil, carried forth on the stage of the most challenging classic arcade game of the early 80s, Donkey Kong. Two men compete to achieve an all-time world record as they guide Mario on the impossible task of rescuing the princess from a giant barrel wielding gorilla.

Our hero is the mild-mannered Steve Wiebe: devoted husband, father, science teacher, and video game savant.

Our villain is Billy Mitchell. It is probably best that he introduce himself.

Judging their contest is Walter Day, amateur folk musician and founder of Twin Galaxies, the self appointed record keepers of all video games.

The film also features a superb cast a supporting characters, men dedicated in body and soul to the lost golden age of the early 80s arcade.

Swing by Ragtag this Monday and bear witness to this epic struggle. Did we mention it’s free?

Posted June 21, 2012
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