Each year, the True/False Film Fest selects one film as its True Life Fund recipient. This is a way for us to give back to that film’s subject who has made a significant achievement in selfless social impact. When documentary subjects share their stories with us they not only reveal painful details about their lives, they frequently incur a financial burden or even put themselves in danger. This year’s True Life Fund film, Which Way is the Front Line From Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington, tells the story of someone who has already given his life. Tim worked as a photojournalist in war torn countries, documenting the true life stories of the people he found there. He died on the way to the hospital from complications due to shrapnel wounds while photographing the civil war in Libya. Columbia has a rich history of producing great journalists, so we felt our home town would be especially responsive to Tim’s story. That has proven to be so, with the 2013 True Life Fund reaching a new record in donations, totaling $36,760.
This number was reached through a combination of audience donations made during the two screenings of the film during the fest, entry fees for the True Life Run, a generous matching donation from the Bertha Foundation, support from the official True Life Fund sponsor The Crossing and the incredible efforts of the students of Hickman High School. $20,000 of the funds will go to RISC (Reporters Instructed in Saving Colleagues), an organization founded by the film’s director Sebastian Junger in honor of his fallen colleague and Restrepo co-director, Tim Hetherington. In a phone conversation Wednesday between RISC’s Deputy Director, Lily Hindy, and True Life Fund director, Tracy Lane, Hindy was overwhelmed by the generosity of the people of Columbia, “We are so grateful. Thanks to you, we can fund an entire training session.” Each training session provides 24 combat journalists with a medical kit and the medical skills needed to save each other’s lives on the battlefield. Junger visited The Crossing during T/F, to share his experiences alongside his former colleague on the battle field and to explain the life-saving opportunities that RISC provides. Hindy visited Columbia’s three public high schools as well as the photojournalism department at MU during T/F week, to share information about RISC with young journalists. $16,760 will go to the Milton Margai School for the Blind in Sierra Leone, where Tim took many photographs.