There’s nothing quite like the beginning of new True/False. Even for those of us who spend a large part of the year directing efforts towards these four days, opening night still feels like a revelation. The sense of collective curiosity around the streets of Columbia is truly singular, and even the strongest memory pales alongside the present. In this digest we’ll highlight just a fraction of the events that made opening night magical.
Each day at T/F you’ll be getting a different take on our 2014 theme, Magic/Realism. Director Jarred Alterman’s micro-films each introduce an important idea from the world of stage magic. In the first, Gary Oxenhandler explains the mechanics of misdirection, a tactic critical to magicians and filmmakers alike.
With the opening of this year’s Fest, our smallest (and by some accounts best) venue, the little theater at Ragtag Cinema, has been renamed the Willy Wilson Theater. This is in honor of a recently departed friend, whose years of support made both Ragtag and True/False possible. Artist Jesse Starbuck recently painted the cinder block wall with one of Willy’s favorite quotes, “Nothing is impossible. Impossible just takes a wee bit longer.”
At 5 pm, the first film played in the Willy Wilson Theater. This was Approaching the Elephant, a stunning black and white observation of an anarchist “free school” for young children, where all classes are voluntary and students and teachers have equal authority.
The film inspired a spirited Q and A, led by T/F programmer Chris Boeckmann and featuring director Amanda Rose Wilder and subject Alex Khost. The conversation ran for a solid half an hour, and could have easily kept right on going. Amanda expressed gratitude that she got to see a narrative unfold right before her eyes, while noting that children are both “complex” and “scary”. Of the kids in the film, Alex remarked “Each day every one of these children has to go to school and say ‘What am I going to do today?’ Most of us that doesn’t happen until we’re 18, 21 years old.”
Meanwhile, in the august setting of the historic Missouri Theatre, True/False began in style with our opening night Jubilee, a celebratory masquerade. Weaving your way through the crowd, buskers and bartenders seemed to be lurking around every corner. Joyous music rang out over the hum of excited conversation.
The Jubilee led into an appropriately jubilant film. Jodorowsky’s Dune tells the story of how cult film director Alejandro Jodorowsky assembled a dream team of “spiritual warriors”, dedicated to carrying out his radical adaptation of the classic science-fiction novel Dune. As T/F co-director Paul Sturtz noted in his pre-film introduction, this film is particularly resonant for True/False, which also involves a remarkable group of people coming together to attempt to a seemingly impossible task.
After the film director Frank Pavish and editor Alex Ricciardi discussed the process of working with Jodorowsky, who they found both charismatic and terrifying. They also recalled how Jodorowsky was moved to tears when he saw Jodorowsky’s Dune for the first time at Cannes.
Back over at Ragtag, the big theater hosted the first screening of Robert Greene’s new film Actress. A unique collaboration, this film follows The Wire actress Brandy Burre’s return to acting after getting out of the profession to start a family. In a post-screening Q and A, Greene and Burre talked about the film’s use of music to create an impression of “theatricality”.
Out in the lobby and over at the T/F box office, the gorgeous new poster for Actress went on display. It was designed by T/F graphic artist Theresa Berens and painted by artist Laura Baran.
At Cafe Berlin, the first of our “Toast/False” showcases featured intricate soundscapes from Eric Rich, Ruth Acuff, Nevada Greene and the amazing Paul Rucker, seen below in the video captured by our friends at Folk to Folk.
Later on at the Vimeo Theater at The Blue Note, it was time for a journey inside the psyche of singer-songwriter Nick Cave with the chimeric 20,000 Days on Earth. When the lights came up, directors Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard discussed how they utilized psychoanalytic sessions to find a new way of asking questions. They also recalled how they stole Cave’s song books and found inspiration in his unwritten lyrics.
Finally, long after the sun went down, opening night ended at Mojo’s with garage rock, blues and everything in-between from Molly Gene One Whoaman Band, Coward, and Jerusalem and the Starbaskets.
For one more look back at the magical atmosphere of opening night, check out this video from Chelsea Myers and Paul Mossine of Tiny Attic Productions, featuring thoughts from filmmaker Joe Callander (Life After Death), music from Bruiser Queen and gravity-defying performances by Les Trois Coups.
So much True/False still lies ahead of us. See you at the movies!