The Great Wall Honors the Career of Filmmaker Les Blank

The Great Wall is True/False’s outdoor movie screen: the massive, Shakespeare’s-facing wall of the Picturehouse Theater (aka the Missouri United Methodist Church). Join us for this free walk-up cinema on Friday and Saturday nights of the Fest from 7 – 11 pm.

This year, we will be celebrating the life and work of the renegade filmmaker Les Blank who passed away in April of 2013.

For more than 50 years Les Blank’s films preserved American subcultures that otherwise might have been forgotten. With a signature idiosyncratic style all his own, Blank captures the essence of a moment and brings it to life. Instead of the fly-on-the-wall method of his contemporaries (Wiseman & Pennebaker) Blank immersed himself in the communities of the people he turned his lens upon. It’s no surprise that Les Blank was only the second white man Lightnin’ Hopkins trusted.

His most well-known film Burden of Dreams is a fantastical look at Werner Herzog’s epic struggle to make his masterpiece Fitzcarraldo in the Amazon. Herzog once said of Blank “He has his own little universe that he creates with Burden of Dreams. If Burden of Dreams was only the making of Fitzcarraldo it would have been lousy. He was beyond my comprehension. I only knew the man was a very, very good filmmaker.” Blank had a particular knack in establishing a strong sense of place: everything in the frame relates back to the environment in which it occurs.

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Blank’s films serve as an important anthropological preservation while pushing the cinematic form of documentary forward. True/False has decided to feature four of his earlier works which would go on to establish him as a force. Dry Wood (1973, 37 min.) and Hot Pepper (1973, 54 min.) capture the daily life of French-speaking blacks in southwestern Louisiana’s Cajun country. A Well Spent Life (1972, 44 min.) and The Blues Accordin’ To Lightnin’ Hopkins (1970, 31 min.) are two great ethno-musicological films lit by Blank’s fascination in the cultures, history and music of the now well-known blues musicians Mance Lipscomb and Lightnin’ Hopkins.

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At 7:10 on Friday, Jim Bogan, a writer, filmmaker and professor who is also an old friend of Blank’s, will kick-off The Great Wall by leading a toast in honor of Blank’s life and work.

Posted February 21, 2014

Calling All Students! Get a Free Taste of the Fest with T.G.I.T/F!

Introducing Thank Goodness It’s True/False! This is our new program for all High School and College students statewide. We invite you to try a taste of the fest on us!

The day starts with a free film and refreshments at the Missouri Theater, followed by art, music, and film workshops and events, and is topped off by a raucous downtown parade. All free. All just for you.

The Friday of the festival (February 28) is a Columbia Public High School teacher work day and students have the day off, so we’ve created a Friday full of free fun for students! We are even providing free bus transportation for all local CPS high schoolers (just fill out this form, and take it to your high school by the 25th). We also welcome all other students from high schools and colleges in our fair state. Grab your student ID and come on down!

10am: Doors open at the Missouri Theater. Come early for coffee, snacks, and live music.

11am: Particle Fever screens, followed by a conversation with our special guests: Mark Levinson, the film’s director, and David Kaplan, star of the film. (Film synopsis: Some of the world’s most savvy scientists guide us through the largest experiment in history, the Large Hadron Collider, which seeks to unlock the secrets of the cosmos).

1 – 5pm: Then, all afternoon, we have free music, art and film events just for students: workshops with local and visiting artists (make costumes and puppets for the parade, get a special public art tour, and meet with internationally acclaimed artists), meet and hear local and national musicians, and talk with filmmakers from around the world.

5:30pm: The day will end with the always fabulous March March parade.

For more info and to reserve your spot, sign up here: http://truefalse.org/educate/attend

We also offer informational presentations about the fest, classroom visits with festival guests, free and discounted tickets, field trips, year-round film education programs, work with the True Life Fund, and other meaningful volunteer work.

FUNDING PROVIDED BY THE BERTHA FOUNDATION

Posted February 20, 2014

How to Use the ‘Q’

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.

Q ing up in front of the Missouri Theater.

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. 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.

Some things to keep in mind when planning your ‘Q’ing.

What 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: Jesse Auditorium, The Missouri Theatre, The Vimeo Theater at The Blue Note, The Picturehouse, 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!

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The Gateway Packet is Now On Sale

The Gateway Packet for True/False 2014 is now on sale. For $35, Gateway lets you reserve three tickets to the select T/F 2014 screenings listed below. These screenings all take place during the festival, which runs from Thursday February 27th to Sunday March 2. You can get tickets for different screenings or three for the same screening. It’s up to you.

The first Gateway option is a film we’re sure will be a crowd-pleaser. Playing Thursday night at 7 at the Missouri Theatre, Jodorowsky’s Dune explores the attempt by cult-film director Alejandro Jodorowsky to adapt the classic sci-fi novel Dune, a colossally ambitious project that would have altered the history of cinema. Despite its failure, this project stands as an inspiring example of uncompromising artistic ambition. Director Frank Pavich and editor Alex Ricciardi will be on hand afterwards to tell the story behind this behind the scenes story.

Second is Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart on Friday evening at 7pm at Jesse Auditorium. This films revisits a story that captivated America in the early 90s, how a 22-year-old woman in small-town New Hampshire may have engineered the murder of her husband at the hands of her teenage student. The public’s interest in this scandal created an extraordinary media circus that ushered in the era of reality TV.

Director Jeremiah Zagar will be at Jesse to answer questions after the film. In the video below he explains his approach to the material.

Your next option is E-Team Saturday morning at 9:30 at Jesse. This film documents the heroic work of Human Right Watch’s Emergency-Team, which investigates crimes against humanity in some of the world’s most dangerous hot spots. Rob Nelson at Variety noted “The valiant and vital work of four globetrotting human rights activists is expertly illuminated in E-Team, a dynamic and immersive piece of you-are-there verite.”

Co-director Ross Kauffman will be on-hand Saturday morning to talk about this amazing production.

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Next up it’s Tim’s Vermeer  at 12:15 Saturday afternoon at Jesse. Created by the magicians Penn and Teller, the film is about inventor Tim Jenison, whose insatiable curiosity led him to test a mind-blowing hypothesis about Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer and his photo-realistic masterworks. Tim himself will be in attendance, who you can meet briefly in the film’s trailer below.

Saturday at 6 at the historic Missouri Theatre it’s Ukraine is Not a Brothel.  This film is a close study of Femen, the Ukranian feminist advocates known for topless protests and elaborate street theater. The story behind these controversial tactics is both complex and provocative. Director Kitty Green and Femen member Inna Shevchenko will be there for what is sure to be a lively Q and A. Check out the film’s very “Not Safe For Work” trailer below.

Saturday night at 9 Jesse you’ll have another chance to see Jodorowsky’s Dune.

At 9:30 Sunday morning back at the Missouri Theatre we have Big Men. This film gives an insider’s look at the political machinations in the oil-rich west coast of Africa. Over the course of seven years, director Rachel Boynton gained access to both boardroom executives and mask-wearing saboteurs, creating a work of sprawling ambition and scope. You’ll be able to ask her about it in person after the film.

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At 12:15 at the Missouri Theatre we’ll be giving our True Vision Award to director Amir Bar-Lev, before a screening of his new film Happy Valley, which explores the culture surrounding Penn State football and its reaction to the Jerry Sandusky sexual-abuse scandal. Matt Sandusky spoke about his father’s crimes for the first time as part of this film.

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Or over at Jesse at 12:30, it’s our True Life Fund film Private Violence. This film powerfully takes on the hidden epidemic of domestic violence, debunking many harmful myths that surround this frequently taboo subject. We’re raising money for subjects Kit Gruelle and Deanna Walters, who along with director Cynthia Hill will be on hand to discuss this important topic.

The last film available in the Gateway Packet, playing at 3:15 Sunday at Jesse, is The Unknown Known, the new work from master documentarian Errol Morris, who’ll be Skyping with us after the screening. In it, Morris trains his formidable interview skills on former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The resulting exchange is a fascinating examination of the power of language.

The Gateway Packet is available for a limited time only, so make sure to pick one up soon. Or better yet, tell a friend about it today!

Posted February 18, 2014

Inside the T/F Lab with Photographer Rebecca Allen

Hidden away somewhere in their secret lab, the T/F production team toils away night and day, crafting the mysterious objects that will soon transform our city. Recently, photographer Rebecca Allen gained access to this strange place, bringing back beautiful images of the myriad projects underway.

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Posted February 14, 2014

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

 

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True/False Film Fest 2014: Magic/Realism

The histories of magic and cinema are both steeped in questions of authenticity and fantasy, and the transformation of the commonplace into the fantastic. With this year’s theme “Magic/Realism” we aim to highlight the affinities between prestidigitation and filmmaking, arts which utilize artifice on the way to discovering a new reality.

A small sample of what we have in store can be found in our 2014 commercial, itself a teaser for the short films you’ll be seeing before each of this year’s screenings. It was created by Jarred Alterman, director of Convento and co-director of Dear Valued Guests (T/F 2013). In it, magician Gary Oxenhandler proposes the idea misdirection, an important skill for magicians and filmmakers alike.

You may also have caught a glimpse of Steve Ferris, who you’ll be seeing much more of during the Fest.

“Magic/Realism” also inspired our 2014 poster, created by artist Akiko Stehrenberger under the direction of veteran T/F collaborator Erik Buckham. The poster quotes “The Marvelous Orange Tree” illusion invented by Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, the father of modern magic. You can view more of Akiko’s work at Hittsville beginning February 23rd.

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The magic is almost here and we’re ready to share the complete True/False 2014 program. The artistic talent converging in our town for four crazy days is truly humbling. Check out the schedule and explore the complete lineup of features, shorts, musicians, artists and concerts. You can also browse through trailers for this year’s films and music videos from T/F 2014 performers.

We’ve also announced the 2014 True Vision Award Honoree, Amir Bar-Lev, who’ll be presenting his new film Happy Valley. And we’ve selected Kit Gruelle and Deanna Walters of Private Violence for the True Life Fund, our annual fundraiser for the subjects of a documentary. This film courageously and intelligently takes on the hidden epidemic of domestic violence.

Finally, we’ve announced the films in our second annual Neither/Nor series, an ongoing project to map the history of “chimeric” cinema thanks to the generous support of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. This year’s program examines the self-reflexive Iranian cinema of the 1990s and will be presented by critic Godfrey Cheshire.

Let the transformation begin!

 

Posted February 11, 2014

The Academy Presents the Second Annual Neither/Nor Series

The Neither/Nor series is an ongoing project to map the history (and present) of “chimeric” cinema, adventurous filmmaking that defies classification as either fiction or nonfiction. Every year True/False will partner with a visiting film critic who will present four films and produce a limited-edition monograph featuring essays and interviews. In the 2014 edition, esteemed film critic Godfrey Cheshire will introduce us to the self-reflexive Iranian cinema of the 1990s. Neither/Nor is underwritten by a generous grant from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

We’re holding a Neither/Nor kick-off reception on Tuesday, February 25th at 6 pm at Ragtag Cinema. There you can meet critic Godfrey Cheshire before he introduces a screening of his own 2007 film Moving Midway, a look at the relocating of his family’s antebellum home to escape Raleigh, North Carolina’s sprawl. The series begins in earnest at Ragtag on True/False eve, Wednesday, February 26th, with Close-Up, Abbas Kiarostami’s 1990 masterpiece. The rest of Neither/Nor will take place during T/F 2014 at Big Ragtag. A Moment of Innocence plays Thursday at 5:30 PM, The Mirror Friday at 12:30 PM, The Apple Saturday at 10:30 AM and Close-Up screens again Saturday at 8:30 PM. All of the screenings in this series will be free.

Here’s a short introduction to this year’s selections.

Close-Up (dir. Abbas Kiarostami, 1990, 98 min.) In this 1990 landmark, director Abbas Kiarostami takes a bizarre case of identity theft and convinces its real-life subjects to participate in a creative reenactment. Hossain Sabzian is a young, underemployed lover of cinema. One day while riding a bus, he meets a woman and convinces her that he is film director Mohsen Makhmalbaf. When she is confused why such a famous man would be riding public transit, Sabzian explains that it’s important to draw inspiration from the real world. Under this pretense, he worms his way into her family’s home and bank account. When the family starts to become suspicious, they invite an ambitious journalist to come investigate.
- Chris Boeckmann

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A Moment of Innocence (dir. Mohsen Makhmalbaf, 1996, 78 min.) In 1974, when Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf was a 17-year-old anti-Shah militant, he stabbed a policeman at a rally. Makhmalbaf found himself in prison for six years, while the police officer suffered serious injuries. Many years later, after Makhmalbaf had found fame as a director, he ran into the same police officer during a film shoot, and they agreed to collaborate on a film. In the brilliantly structured A Moment of Innocence, we witness the two men as they work together to recreate this incident. As they go about this process, we discover that the men have very different memories of what transpired on that pivotal day.
- Chris Boeckmann

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The Mirror (dir. Jafar Panahi, 1997, 93 min.) In the center of Tehran, as the day comes to a close, a young first-grader named Mina (played by Mina Mohammad-Khani) walks out of her school and discovers that her mother is nowhere to be found. Impatient, and with one arm in a sling, she decides to find her own way home. Mina boards a bus and listens in on the various conversations unfolding around her. That bus, it turns out, is heading the wrong direction. Eventually, all of a sudden, a frustrated Mina does something surprising. Jafar Panahi, then a protégé of Close-Up director Abbas Kiarostami, directed this playfully reflexive 1997 film.
- Chris Boeckmann

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The Apple (dir. Samira Makhmalbaf, 1999, 86 min.) Directed by a then 17-year-old Samira Makhmalbaf (daughter of Mohsen Makhmalbaf, who co-wrote the screenplay), this 1998 film recreates a scandalous news story using the real life participants. In an Iranian neighborhood, a strict, unemployed father and his blind wife keep their 11-year-old twin daughters, Massoumeh and Zahra, locked in their house. After neighbors complain to the welfare ministry, a social worker comes to release them. Makhmalbaf’s quasi-documentary follows Massoumeh and Zahra as they receive their first taste of freedom and observes their father as he sits behind bars, reflecting on his actions. Makhmalbaf’s auspicious debut is a profoundly unsettling exploration of patriarchy. Screens with “The House Is Black” (Forough Farrokhzad, 1963, 22 min.).
- Chris Boeckmann

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Posted February 10, 2014

Announcing the Pay the Artists! Program

We’re excited to announce our new Pay the Artists! initiative.

Pay the Artists! is part of a larger effort to create a sustainable ecosystem for nonfiction filmmakers, whose work rarely gets a wide theatrical run. Festivals, more and more, act as a de facto substitute for movie houses. Crowdfunding and foundation grants are often not enough to bring a film into the world.

The True/False PTA program exists as a partial remedy to this problem. In 2014, True/False will begin offering $450 to each feature filmmaker (or filmmaking team) attending the fest in addition to all travel, lodging and food expenses. We hope to grow this fund each year and, eventually, to be able to offer stipends of $1,000 per filmmaker.

This program is a tangible way to invest in filmmakers making great films over the long haul. With it, we aim to seed a movement of supportive institutions who invest in nonfiction filmmaking futures. We hope that, for more new filmmakers, nonfiction is not merely a launching pad to commercial or fiction work but a viable career path.

We see ourselves as a petri dish for trying out ideas, including how to best serve filmmakers. The PTA is an experiment, but also a crucial corrective to the lack of resources for independent filmmakers. While the amounts may seem token at first, we see the PTA as a growing, important commitment to do more care and feeding of the filmmakers we believe in. And if we are not all engaged in making independent filmmaking a sustainable enterprise, we will lose the very voices we exist to champion.

Funds for the PTA program are provided through generous three-year financial commitments from patrons who care deeply about the future of nonfiction filmmaking.

The founding members of the PTA are:

Holly Roberson & John Goldstein
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J.A. & H.G Woodruff Jr. Charitable Trust
Pete Kingma & Thom Lambert
Jonathan Murray

Posted February 4, 2014

‘Jodorowsky’s Dune’ is Coming to the Jubilee

On opening night, February 27th, the historic Missouri Theatre plays host to The Jubilee, our masquerade gala marking the beginning of a new True/False. This event is sponsored by our friends at LaBrunerie Financial and features six of Columbia’s best bartenders. After mingling with fellow fest-goers and partaking in plentiful libations, we’ll watch the festival’s first screening in this august setting. This year we feel we found a film perfect for the evening’s exuberant atmosphere.

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In 1975, cult film director Alejandro Jodorowsky attempted to adapt the classic sci-fi novel Dune, along with a team of collaborators including Mick Jagger, Salvador Dali and Pink Floyd. Jodorowsky’s Dune uses phenomenal storyboards and concept sketches to tell the story of this unique project, which, despite its ultimate failure, serves as an inspiring example of uncompromising artistic ambition.

In the film’s trailer you can hear from Jodorowsky himself about the incredible goals that he set for himself in making Dune.

Frank Pavich, the director of Jodorowky’s Dune, will be on hand at both the Jubilee and other T/F screenings to share stories and answer your questions. We hope to see you there!

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Posted February 3, 2014
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