The Only Way to Not Have Fun At True/False is if You Just Don’t Want To
What a lovely Missouri storm last night, complete with hail, sky-spanning lightning and a fierce wind to blow Columbia’s incoming guests ever-closer. It was far more exciting than ominous as three of us watched from a window at Breakout CoMo, where a last-minute push to complete Elemental was underway. Before this I’d spent the day darkening a church’s reception hall—not with bad vibes or negative energy, but with black plastic sheeting and heavy black curtains to make it a proper movie theater—and transporting sculptures made of tomato cages in a U-Haul. My new friend Mike and I drove out to pick up the tomato cage sculptures from the artist who’d made them. Neither of us had ever met him, he wasn’t home, and the tomato cages were in his garden. And while they were bound in such a way that suggested sculpture rather than gardening, I couldn’t shake the feeling that someone might storm up and ask us what the hell we thought we were doing.
“How do we know this is even the right house?” I asked. “What if we’re just ripping up someone’s garden?” Mike shrugged, unshaded, and we kept at it until someone did, in fact, come home. They pulled into the driveway just as we were making our way to the U-Haul. I prepared for greetings or, rather improbably, apologies and explanations. What I didn’t expect was a brief glance before the person got out their keys and went in the house, which felt somehow felt worse than being accused of stealing. Even if you knew strangers were coming over to rip something out of your yard, wouldn’t you at least wave? By the time we were dropping the sculpture off at Jesse Hall to a group of waiting T/F volunteers—and I could more or less see it as sculpture by now—I was reflecting on how I worry too much, and Mike was reflecting on the coming weekend. “Yeah,” he said, calm and smooth, “pretty much the only way to not have fun at True/False is if you just don’t want to,” and then he very nearly crashed the U-Haul in what would surely have been a weekend-ruining fashion.
So maybe we did steal those tomato cages and maybe I don’t worry too much, but the the storm has passed and time is upon us. I have certain things I’m supposed to cover for the Fest, and I also plan to just let myself be carried away occasionally, but there are certain events I really don’t want to miss. I’m excited about Provocateurs, a “mini-ideas fest within True/False,” five speakers who are invited for “having fiery ideas and a unique presentation style,” says Abby Sun, Provocateur coordinator. Each speaker is paired with a particular film and will give a talk before each screening of that film. The idea is that their particular provocation will be thematically related to the film in a not-entirely-obvious way. “We’re trying to avoid a TED talk conference,” says Sun. “The topic is completely up to the Provocateur.” Sarah Jeong, for example—an outstanding journalist whose technology-related work is often both funny and, yes, provocative—will be giving an address not directly related to rats before screenings of RAT FILM. I don’t want to give away her topic and how it relates to this exploration of rats, humanity and Baltimore, but it should be compelling. And if you, like me, will be probably be unable to make all of the Provocateur films, you can still catch all five speakers together at Sunday morning’s Chautauqua, held 9:30 AM at the Rhynsburger Theatre and then at a reception at the Bingham Gallery.
There are myriad bands I’m excited for, but we all have our own opinions on that. I do highly recommend Laura Henno’s short film “Koropa,” which will be featured in the “Young Money” shorts collection on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It follows a young boy named Patron who is being trained by the adult Ben for illegal late-night transport of migrants between Comoros and Mayotte in the Indian Ocean. Ben is a Commander, Patron is his orphan apprentice, and their complex story and relationship are real—Henno has continued to film the two since making “Koropa,” and a feature film is in the works. Meditative and slightly unnerving, the tone-setting opening shot immediately took me somewhere new.
And, yes, I’ve already hyped Elemental, but I’m thrilled for people to experience this after all the hard work that’s gone into it. It truly should be a magical, reality-altering thing of beauty—as, I’m expecting, will be this whole event. I’ll be keeping the U-Haul on the road and filing occasional stories from the Fest all weekend, so feel free to check in when you aren’t absorbing the delights.