The True/False 2015 Fest Digest provides a day-by-day look back at some of the events that made up this year’s Fest with stories, pics and videos. Explore each entry below:
Throughout the festival, the T/F Video Team put in long hours and late nights creating daily recap videos for each day of the Fest. A big thank you to videographers Paul Mossine, Chelsea Myers, Samuel Ott, Matthew Suppes, Ben Hendricks, Matt Schacht, Thomas Brinegar and Jonathan Sessions for capturing the feel of True/False 2015. Check out their work below:
Music by: Miss Jubilee & The Humdingers – “I Found A New Baby”
Edited by Thomas Brinegar
Music by: David Wax Museum – “Will You Be Sleeping”
Edited by Paul Mossine
Music by Messy Sparkles – Untitled, Pat Sajak Assassins – “Cave Bacon”
Edited by Samuel Ott
Thank You Volunteers!
Music: Yes Ma’am
Edited: Chelsea Myers
We have all once more parted ways. It’s always a little sad to realize that the festival is now part of the past. But hopefully True/False 2015 is now part of a past we can carry with us and live together inside of for years to come.
Jarred Alterman’s final prefeature micro film “The Bottle Hunter” considers messages sent through time, arriving in the present through a window of time. Hopefully a few of the thousands of ideas, impressions, feelings and experiences that we shared this weekend will arrive suddenly in your present at a time you least expect it.
We sprung forward into the final day of T/F 2015, meaning the 9:30 screening of The Visit came extra early at the Missouri Theatre. Michael Madsen’s hypnotic simulation of humanity’s first encounter with alien intelligence features interviews with international officials who actually develop protocol for such an occurrence.
Meanwhile, at the Oddfellows Lodge everyone chowed down at the Weird Wake-Up before entering the theater for a double bill mid-length films about art curation and time: Abandoned Goods and Jeff, Embrace Your Past.
On Sunday, long time friend Gabe Williams guided the ever-popular Art Ramble through downtown Columbia, highlighting the art installations during True/False. He spoke about the ephemeral nature of True/False’s art and the temporary nature of all of our human achievements. One of the pieces considered was Duncan Bindbeutel The Frozen Man located outside of Ragtag Cinema.
Sunday afternoon at The Missouri Theatre hosted director Nick Broomfield’s Tales from the Grim Sleeper, which investigates the community and police response (or lack thereof) to a serial killer’s 20-plus year killing spree of young women in South Central L.A. Broomfield was joined on stage by Pam Brooks, a woman from the area who becomes an ad hoc investigator in the film.
At our rookie venue Cornell on the MU campus, T/F 2015 concluded with a screening of Finders Keepers, a hilarious and poignant film about the custody battle over a severed foot.
Later at the Vimeo Theater at the Blue Note, T/F concluded with a screening of Episode Five of The Jinx: the Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, the HBO nonfiction series. Before hand, David explained his excitement about the potential for long form nonfiction on television that the series represents. Afterwards, filmmaker Marc Smerling discussed episode’s startling developments, while carefully avoiding spoilers for next week’s finale.
And at the Missouri Theatre, a huge crowd gathered for the always bittersweet Busker’s Last Stand, where a huge array of T/F 2015 musicians performed in unison.
True/False is only possible because each and every year hundreds upon hundreds of volunteers joyfully contribute their time and labor. We can not let the fact that they show up each and every year make us complacent in recognizing how remarkable this is. Thank you to our volunteers. You are incredible.
The hardworking T/F Video team put together this short piece as one expression of our gratitude.
Another way we try to say thank you is our Sunday night volunteer party. Our party team spent countless hours transforming an undisclosed location into an indescribable party space. Once again, it was the best party of the year. Each room offered specific delights as we all spent a feel hours drinking, talking and dancing inside of some sort of strange utopia.
Thank you again to everyone who made this possible. True/False 2015 may be past, but we will try to keep the conversation about the art of nonfiction cinema going, both here on our website and out in the world, through the weeks and months ahead until we all come together again March 3, 2016.
Minister of Propaganda
True/False Film Fest
True/False 2015 barreled ahead through a glorious, jam-packed Saturday. With so much to see and hear and think and feel, you find yourself forgetting to eat and sleep. Inside the Fest, time seems to move differently.
In Jarred Alterman’s third microfilm, “The Beekeeper”, Jim Thaxter explains something similar, how organisms like bees experience the flow of time not as individuals, but as a collective.
Saturday began bright and early with our the True Life Run, a surprise-filled journey through the heart of Columbia to benefit our True Life Fund. The weather was great, and a run felt like just the thing after two days of cinema.
At the Forrest Theater, Saturday began with a screening of Heaven Knows What, one of the few films at T/F this year which could clearly, if not cleanly, be described as “fiction”. Afterwards, brother filmmakers Josh and Benny Safdie described meeting their star Arielle Holmes while she was living on the street, and persuading her to right a memoir about her life, which eventually became the basis for the screenplay. They also talked about shooting from blocks away, so that their actors could authentically inhabit New York.
That afternoon at the Missouri Theatre, it was time for the biggest screening of our 2015 True Life Fund film, The Look of Silence. David Wilson and Crossing Church Pastor Dave Cover introduced the film and the fund benefiting Adi Rukun, who in the film confronts perpetrators of the 1965-66 Indonesian genocide. After the screening, filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer translated while Adi joined us from Indonesia via Skype. When asked about revenge Adi said, ”I never wanted to take revenge. What good would it do? It would just perpetuate violence forever.”
At Reynolds Journalism Institute, our second day of panels featured a discussion about working with subjects on the margins. Filmmakers Hanna Polack (Something Better to Come), Morgan Knibble (Those Who Feel the Fire Burning) and Khalik Allah (Field Niggas) considered numerous pitfalls in conversation with moderator by Omar Mullick (These Birds Walk).
A little later, back at the Missouri Theatre, former True Vision Award winner Alex Gibney took the stage following a screening of Going Clear, his comprehensive expose on the history and methods of the Church of Scientology. Gibney talked about preparing for the ongoing legal battle that followed the film’s premiere at Sundance and capturing the right tone for this stranger-than-fiction story.
Later at The Globe, an audience gathered to watch the hilarious Rules of the Game, a French film following three teens as they progress (or regress) through a program designed to prepare them for the workforce. Even the film’s chapter introductions drew huge laughs from the crowd, who watched the film beneath the glow of Camellia Cosgray’s lighted megamap.
At 9th and Broadway, The Great Wall featured short films and news reports from our late friend Malik Bendjelloul, who won over T/F audiences with his earnest charm when appearing with his film Searching for Sugar Man (T/F 2012). Beneath The Wall, David Wilson led a toast for Malik “who will always have a place at True/False.”
Then it was time for one of True/False’s signature events, Gimme Truth! In our always raucous game show, a panel of filmmakers must try to discern if short films are 100% True or 100% False.
In this short clip captured by our friends at CAT TV, panelists Ioanis Nugent (Spartacus & Cassandra), Lyric R. Cabral ((T)ERROR) and Nick Broomfield (Tales of the Grim Sleeper) appraise Snip Snip: A Story of Childhood Loss by Mike Sleadd & Matt Schacht.
Meanwhile at the Missouri United Methodist Church, Anonymous Choir performed in a first-of-its-kind Sanctuary Showcase, sending beautiful melodies echoing off of the walls.
While over at Rose Music Hall, Shilpa Ray tore through the place with her harmonium and voice as part of our Saturday Showcase.
Only one days remains, but there is no slowing down. It is time to spring forward into the final day of T/F 2015. But before we do, lets take one last look back at Saturday with the latest offering from the T/F Video Team, who pulled yet another all-nighter to bring you the sights and sounds of T/F.
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
8. Gyno Might
dir. Benjamin J Hedrick
9. Flossy Flossy
dir. Autumn Brown & Heather Beger
10. Family Heirloom
dir. Paul Mossine & Chandra Heartland
Call of Duty
dir. Matt Lenski, 2015, 6 min.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Onwards to Saturday!
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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”.
True/False 2015 is right now.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It’s about time. The preparation is finally at an end. Let’s get started.
Minister of Propaganda
The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst is a six-part HBO series examining enigmatic millionaire Robert Durst, still free despite being implicated in a disappearance, a murder and a dismemberment over the course of three decades. Created by the team of Andrew Jarecki and Marc Smerling, the men responsible for the unforgettable Capturing the Friedmans, The Jinx artfully presents a constantly shifting kaleidoscope of perspectives, outrageously including that of Durst himself in an extensive, uncomfortable interview.
The Jinx deserves to be recognized as both great television and great cinema. For this reason, T/F will be presenting three different programs of The Jinx during the Fest. The first program features episodes 1 and 2 and the second episodes 3 and 4. The third, Sunday night at 9:00 the Vimeo Theater at the Blue Note, will feature episode 5 the same night it premieres on HBO. If you’ve been watching at home or want to catch up on HBOGo, you can jump in for a special extended Q and A with co-creator Marc Smerling, who will be addressing for the first time the startling revelations contained in this episode. It should make for an unforgettable conclusion to T/F 2015.
You’ve probably noticed on our schedule that most of the screenings are now marked “NRT” for “No Reserve Tickets”. This may even include the screenings for that one film you really wanted to see. Please, don’t panic. The “No Reserve Tickets” does not mean sold out. You can still use the Q!
We’re very proud of our Q system, which we feel does a great job of keeping T/F accessible, despite of its growth. But we understand it can be confusing and intimidating, particularly for people who haven’t used it before.
So here’s how it works. At each of our venues you’ll immediately notice the conspicuous ‘Q’. One hour before each and every screening, the flamboyantly dressed Q Queen will begin handing out numbered Q cards. Frequently, a line forms at the Q in the lead up to this one hour til showtime mark.
Once you get your numbered Q card, you can go grab a bite to eat or take a stroll around town. Just make sure to come back 15 minutes before the show starts. That’s when we’ll start filling seats off of the Q, based on the number on your Q card, so make sure you’re back with 15 minutes. To speed this process up, the Q Queen will have you form a line in numerical order. We always hold back seats to fill with the Q, in addition to the seats belonging to ticket holders who decide not to come (something which happens frequently at the film festivals).
Once your number is called and you’re ready to head into the theater, you’ll need to do one of two things. If you have a pass, you can just flash it to the volunteer at the door and head on in. Otherwise, make sure you have cash on you to pay at the door.
It’s easy once you get the hang of it. We promise.
This year we are introducing a new incentive to get folks out and ‘Q’ing. Every time you get a Q card, put your name and email on the back. Whether or not you get in to the screening, make sure to hand your card in to the Queen. We’ll draw one Q card at random for all four days of the Fest. Each lucky winner will receive one LUX pass to T/F 2016! Sorry, volunteers, Ragtag and True/False staff are not eligible.
Some things to keep in mind when planning your ‘Q’ing.
How big is the venue? The bigger the venue, the more people will for sure get in on the Q. Ranked from biggest to smallest, our theaters are: The Missouri Theatre, Cornell, The Vimeo Theater at The Blue Note, The Picturehouse, Geology, Rhynsburger, The Globe, The Forrest Theater, Big Ragtag, Odd Fellows Lodge and the Willy Wilson Theater at Ragtag.
What time of day is it? People tend to have a tendency to sleep in and skip that first screening in the morning. Late at night, they might decide that they’ve already had enough for one day. This frees up more seats for the Q. But if you want to go to a screening at 7 pm, you’ll probably have to line up at the Q a little earlier.
Have fun! Strike up a conversation with a stranger. Tell someone about a film you saw. If we’ve done our job right, there should be more than enough to talk about!