Updates

Access All T/F Concerts with the Busker Band!

True/False may be a film festival, but we’re about more than just cinema. We’ve backed no less than 12 concerts into the four days of the Fest, plus a bonus show on True/False eve. These showcases take place a variety of Columbia’s coolest venues and feature a variety of musical styles. And if you want access to them all, we’ve created a new way to experience the Fest,   the Busker Band. For $30 you admission to all of music showcases, plus more. It works great on it’s own or as a compliment to a Simple Pass.

Among the shows you can catch is our True/Folk showcase on Thursday, the first night of T/F, at 7 at The Blue Fugue, featuring Foundry Field Recordings, Samuel James and The Flood Brothers.

Friday at 9 you swing by Cafe Berlin for Mountain Animation, Lonesome Leash, Yes Ma’am and first-time T/F performer Yva Las Vegass.

Saturday Night at 9:30 it’s Mojo’s A-Go-Go, where you can dance the night away in a synth-pop trance provided by SpaceIsThePlace, Née and MNDR.

And Sunday afternoon at 2 you can pick up a scoop Sparky’s Homemade Ice Cream and watch the talented singer-songwriter Samuel James.

These are just a few of the concerts we have on offer. Be sure to check out the concerts page for the rest. And bear in mind that if you do decide on a  Busker Band, you’ll get all of the following:
  • Admission to all T/F busker showcases and concerts
  • Admission to Busker’s Last Stand at the Missouri Theatre on Sunday night
  • One, non-transferable wristband that grants you admission to the events listed above
  • One movie voucher that can be exchanged for a screening ticket at the box office (starting at noon on Thursday, Feb. 27) or for admission via the Q line at Jesse Auditorium, Missouri Theatre or The Blue Note
  • If a showcase or concert reaches capacity, admission will be on a space-available basis
  • Does not include admission to screenings, parties, special events, or pre-screening busker performances

 

Posted February 14, 2014

The 2014 True Vision Award Goes to Amir Bar-Lev

We’re thrilled to announce that Amir Bar-Lev will receive this year’s True Vision Award in honor of his dedication to and advancement in the field of nonfiction filmmaking. This award, the only one at True/False, is given with the support of Timothy D. McGarity, MD. Bar-Lev is the eleventh recipient of the True Vision Award, which will be designed and cast in bronze by mid-Missouri sculptor Larry Young.

Amir

Bar-Lev is an American filmmaker, writer and producer, who has crafted countless innovative and award-winning documentaries. In Fighter, his 2000 directorial debut, he follows two Czech Holocaust survivors, Jan Weiner and Arnost Lustig, as they travel across Europe retracing Jan’s escape from the Nazis. Bar-Lev’s approach vividly captures the men’s unforgettable personalities and relationship.

fighter

In 2007′s My Kid Could Paint That, Bar-Lev explores the pressing questions raised by the art world’s embrace of a four-year-old abstract painter and her work. Offering no easy answers, Bar-Lev doesn’t shy away from probing his own relationship with his subjects and the process of documentary storytelling itself.

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2010′s The Tillman Story takes on the death of Pat Tillman, the American football player who left a multi-million dollar contract to serve in the Army Rangers. The Tillman family’s quest to unearth the truth surrounding his death illuminates the way in which the military and media construct narratives, and the power of those narratives in shaping how we see the world.

the tillman story

This year True/False will show Bar-Lev’s new film Happy Valley. It tracks the destruction of the bucolic image of Penn State University and its surrounding community following the Jerry Sandusky child-abuse scandal. Shot in the wake of this revelation, it takes an unflinching look at the collective guilt and identity loss experienced in a football-first culture.  Happy Valley highlights Bar-Lev’s rare gift of finding the emotional depth within a widely reported story.

happyvalley

Previous winners of the True Vision Award include Lucien Castaing-Taylor & Verena Paravel (2013), Victor Kossakovsky (2012), James Marsh (2011) and Laura Poitras (2010).

 

 

Posted January 30, 2014

Akiko Stehrenberger’s Artwork at Hittsville

Hittsville (the shared home of Ragtag Cinema, Uprise Bakery, 9th Street Video and Hitt Records) will be hosting the work of Los Angeles-based artist Akiko Stehrenberger beginning on February 23rd and running through T/F 2014. 10% of the sales are going to our True Life Fund.

Akiko created the gorgeous illustration for this year’s T/F poster. She began her career in New York doing spot illustrations for publications such as SPIN and New York Press. Upon moving back to Los Angeles in 2004, she became an art director/designer for movie posters while illustrating for various types of other freelance projects. She is a three time Key Art/CLIO Award winner and a two time SXSW Best Film Poster Award winner, in addition to a multitude of other awards and accolades.

Check out a few of her posters below and browse many more at akikomatic.com.

FUNNYGAMES-new

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Posted January 28, 2014

Private Violence is Our 2014 True Life Fund Film

The True/False Film Fest is proud to recognize Cynthia Hill’s Private Violence as this year’s recipient of the True Life Fund.

Private Violence focuses on Kit Gruelle, an advocate for survivors of domestic violence, and Deanna Walters, who is battling for justice after surviving horrific abuse at the hands of her former partner. The film exposes the complex obstacles that stand between a survivor of abuse and freedom, as well as dispels destructive myths about domestic violence. Private Violence shows that for survivors, the answer is rarely as simple as just walking away from their abuser.

The film is part of a larger media project focused on ending domestic violence against women through awareness and education.

The True Life Fund exists to support people who bravely and selflessly share their stories in documentary films. This year, the funds raised will be awarded to both Kit Gruelle and Deanna Walters, who represent ideal recipients. We’ll be working extensively director Cynthia Hill to raise money and conduct outreach.

Private Violence is the eighth True Life film since the fund began in 2007. The U.K.-based Bertha Foundation provides a matching grant for the grassroots fundraising effort. We’re also grateful for the continued partnership with The Crossing, who will be sponsoring the True Life Fund this year for the seventh time.

 

 

Posted January 23, 2014

Over 100 T/F Films Available to Watch Online

Announcing the new True/False video page. Give it a look and browse through over 100 films from past True/False Film Fests available to stream online for free. You can sort by the year they played the fest, or by whether they are a short or a feature. These films are gathered from a variety of sites which legally stream docs, including Vimeo, YouTube, Hulu, SnagFilms, Crackle, P.O.V. and The National Film Board of Canada’s online archive.

videosscreen

We’ve also collected videos of classic docs, musical performances, interviews and much more. Come take a look around and see what catches your eye.

Posted January 6, 2014

2013 in Review

Another year has come and gone, and 2014 is already upon us. But as we prepare for everything that lies ahead, we wanted to take a look back at an extraordinary year for documentary film. 2013 was the year film critics woke up to nonfiction’s essential place in the cinema. This was reflected in the best-of lists, where a strong consensus emerged that documentaries were among the year’s best.

A good place to start is Scott Tobias’s Year in Documentary piece for The Dissolve, which praises 2013′s docs for their formal innovations. Tobias argues that 2013 was “a year in which documentary filmmakers liberated themselves from past formulas and found new ways to express the truth”; where docs were “committed to veering away from the realm of magazine pieces or Wikipedia, and finding truths only the camera can reveal”.

He opens his article by looking at Leviathan, which used tiny, light-weight GoPro cameras aboard a commercial fishing vessel to discover a new standard of cinematic immersion. Filmmakers Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel of Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab received our True Vision Award at a screening of this work at last year’s fest. It was recently named the film of the year by the staff at L Magazine, who noted “This heaving, churning epic defies pat classification. In this case it’s only reasonable to invoke a critical cliche: you have to see it for yourself.”

levia

Tobias also cites These Birds Walk, which spies into the lives of the homeless and runaway boys of Pakistan with a sustained eloquence reminiscent of the cinema of Terrence Malick. This film is the first to play True/False twice, first as a work-in-progress in 2012 and then as a completed film in 2013. Peter Rainer of the Christian Science Monitor named it among his ten best, noting that Birds is “flooded with piercing sequences that open up an entire country and way of life”.

TBW_Still2

Another T/F 2013 selection receiving attention is After Tiller. The documentary debut of Lana Wilson and Martha Shane profiles the only four doctors left in America who perform late-term abortions. Taking on this most divisive of issues with a delicate and intelligent approach, the film takes us inside the confidential counselling sessions where women face impossible decisions. Naming it her number three film of the year, Katie Walsh at The Playlist observed “the remarkable thing about a film like After Tiller is the way in which Wilson and Shane take such a political topic and turn it into something so personal”.

AfterTiller_WarrenHern

The Act of Killing was named film of the year by both the Guardian and Sight & Sound magazine. The later, run by the British Film Institute, publishes a top 30 list every year after surveying over 100 international critics, curators and academics. The Act of Killing enlists the perpetrators of Indonesia’s mass killings of the 1960s to reenact their crimes in garish cinematic set-pieces. This truly startling work has already generated a massive secondary literature, including Sight & Sound’s latest piece by Carrie McAlinden. 

act-of-killing-2

Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell turns the revelation of an awkward family secret into an investigation of a deeper mystery, the role that narratives play in all of our lives. Stories came in 13th overall on the Metacritic meta-pollElizabeth Weitzman of the NY Daily News named it her film of the year, calling it “intimate in scale, but enormous in scope”.

Sarah Polley in a still from Stories We Tell

Critics have also rallied around a T/F 2013 film perhaps too strange to be regarded as a documentary (or then again, maybe not). Andrew Bujalski’s undefinable Computer Chess takes us back to the dawn of the information age, to a strange hotel convention where a group of computer programmers are attempting to develop an artificial intelligence. Ignatiy Vishnevetsky at the A. V. Club picked this bizarre sci-fi comedy as his film of the year.

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Other T/F 2013 films mentioned in critics best-of lists include No, Blackfish, The Gatekeepers, 20 Feet From Stardom and Cutie and the Boxer.

2013 also saw the launch of an excellent new online resource for documentary fanatics. Christopher Campbell’s new site Nonfics features news, reviews, pieces on classics, a podcast and the first annual Nonfics critics poll, which collects a plethora of nonfiction only best-of lists.

Finally, filmmaker Robert Greene shared his list of the year’s best cinematic nonfiction in his Unfiction column at Sight & Sound. Greene’s “highlights of a triumphant year for the art of documentary” include T/F 2013 pics Sleepless NightsThe Last StationWinter Go AwayDeclaration of War, A Story for the Modlins and the shortest film ever to play True/False, Tina Delivers a Goat.

Tina Delivers a Goat from Joe Callander on Vimeo.

These are clearly exciting times for documentary film. We can’t wait to see what lies ahead in 2014, and share it with you in just a couple months.

Posted January 3, 2014

‘Aaron Burr, Part 2′ and a Chat with Director Dana O’Keefe

Aaron Burr was a major figure in the American revolution and early republic. But the legacy of our third vice president was ruined forever on July 11, 1804 when he killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel. In Aaron Burr, Part 2 (T/F 2012) Burr himself returns to finally clear the air about that fateful day and the events leading up to it. Check out the short below, as well as my chat with the filmmaker Dana O’Keefe, the man also responsible for Vladimir Putin in Deep Concentration (T/F 2013).

-Dan Steffen

T/F: How did you first become interested in making a film about Aaron Burr?

DO: I was initially fascinated by the idea that political figures resolved their differences through this highly ritualized form of combat. And then when it became clear that there were discrepancies in the accounts of the duel, that presented an opportunity to explore the idea that there isn’t really a stable version of history. That it depends on your perspective.

If there was a moment of clarity in conceiving the project, it was when we went to the actual site where the duel took place and realized that it was a parking lot. History, especially in New York, is all around us. It’s sort of hiding in plain sight. Using the actual locations where these things happened and embracing the fact that they looked modern forces the spectator to think about the relationship between past and present.

One thing I soon realized is that I knew absolutely nothing about what really happened during the revolutionary war. In this short period a time a relatively small group of people made a series of decisions which in turn determined what would happen over the next two hundred years.

T/F: What’s True/False about your film?

DO: I think the entire premise is “is there empirical, objective historical truth?” Aaron Burr was arguably as important a political figure as Alexander Hamilton. But he wrote himself out of history by killing another man, who in turn was enshrined as a national treasure.

To me it’s the epitome of how I interpret True/False, playing with these questions of documentary versus narrative. We tried to use a narrative filmmaking grammar to approach a documentary subject.

T/F: Could you tell me a little more about this narrative grammar?

DO: I think the idea was to figure out a way to present historical subject matter in a way that was both dynamic and relevant to a younger audience. The style is very music driven and utilizes highly composed shots, things that you don’t usually see in documentary. It’s very easy in shooting this sort of material to backslide into something that looks stagey or artificial.

T/F: Yeah, it almost feels like a film trailer in some ways . . .

DO:  Yeah, that’s funny, I guess it is somehow, it’s sort of like shorthand. I’ve never really worked extensively with dialogue in films, so a lot of what I do involves music and silent film storytelling techniques, occasionally title cards and things like that. So I try to convey as much as I can visually.

T/F: I thought Burr as a character was quite interesting. You made him arrogant and somewhat unlikeable, even though this is his chance to tell his story. How did you think about Burr as a character and a narrator?

DO: Gore Vidal wrote a historical novel called Burr which quickly eclipsed all of the other source material. The film is heavily indebted to that work in terms of presenting the jaundiced perspective of this guy who sort of wrote himself out of history and therefore has a very critical attitude about the cherished mythology of the period. That book really helped clarify how to portray his psychology.

T/F: Burr’s voice in the film has a weird, sort of otherworldly quality to it.

DO: Here’s a one way of thinking about it. We’re presented with this one version of history which we rarely question, right? And then Burr’s point of view about this incident is completely different, and he presents this version which contradicts the received wisdom. And he does so in a way that at first seems very objective and detached, almost robotic. But I think as the film builds you realize that his point of view is also delusional. Elements of megalomania sort of creep into this impartial narration. Hopefully, it highlights the impossibility of any stable interpretation of a historical event.

 

Posted December 5, 2013

Prepare for the Magic Realism of T/F 2014!

The True/False Film Fest returns February 27- March 2, 2014 with Magic Realism!

“Magic realism” first described a literary genre rooted in the everyday but peppered with the fantastical. In 2014, we’re recasting the phrase for our own subversive purposes. On the surface, Magic Realism describes how the festival weekend transforms the everyday, casting our quotidian downtown streetscape in a new light. Fresh surprises are as likely to lurk in a hidden alley as a darkened theater. Likewise, documentary filmmakers are every bit the masters of illusion, misdirection and sleight of hand as their fiction-focused brethren. The history of prestidigitation is one steeped in questions of Reality and Fantasy, exploring the intersection between the mundane and the fantastic.

This will be brought home in the 2014 poster which quotes “The Marvelous Orange Tree” illusion invented by Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, the father of modern magic. In it, a small barren tree is coaxed to produce first flowers and then fruit by a persuasive magician.The intricate cogs and gears of the mechanism, though in many ways every bit as wondrous a feat as the suggested illusion, are hidden from sight. This is the magic of all filmmaking- the careful cloaking of the watchworks to produce passion, marvel and delight. True/False 2014 aims to be steeped in this wonderment, whether the art is visual, musical or cinematic.

All passes for T/F 2014 are on sale now. For those who want to help create the magic, we are also accepting volunteer applications.

Posted November 26, 2013

‘These Birds Walk’ Now Playing in NYC

These Birds Walk throws us into the chaotic world of the Pakistan’s lost boys, observing the residents and employees of one of the Edhi Foundation’s shelters for homeless and runaway children. The film’s poetic grace mirrors the startling eloquence of the children themselves, as face their predicament and search for something to hope for.

These Birds Walk is the first film to play True/False two years in a row, in 2012 as a work-in-progrss and in 2013 as a completed film. Just yesterday it captured the coveted Black Pearl Award at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival. Now New Yorkers can see the film for the for themselves at Village East Cinema.

John Oursler at The Village Voice called These Birds Walk “a touching portrait of youthful resilience” while at The Dissolve Scott Tobias declared the film “essential viewing”. And on Indiewire, co-directors Omar Mullick and Bassam Tariq offered compelling advice on how to make a documentary rise above the “social issues” cliches.

But perhaps the best endorsement for the film is this trailer, which captures These Birds Walk‘s masterful scoring and photography.

Posted November 1, 2013

Gimme Truth! ‘Not Unusual’

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). Below you can evaluate “Not Unusual” by Betsy Gantt.

You can watch all of the 2013 edition of Gimme Truth! here.

Posted October 14, 2013
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