True Life Fund
The True Life Fund demonstrates that documentaries can create change by offering tangible assistance to the real-life subjects of a new non-fiction film. It acknowledges that documentary filmmakers and festivals thrive because of the stories given to us by people often of limited means.
While we can’t yet raise money for the subjects of every film (one day!) we can spotlight one film each year and raise funds to support and honor those who appear in front of the camera. We do this by actively collaborating with filmmakers, whose intimate knowledge of their "characters" enables us to pinpoint needs and most effectively target our efforts.
The 2015 True Life Fund film is Joshua Oppenheimer's, The Look of Silence.
In this True Life Fund selection, we meet Adi Rukun, who investigates the perpetrators of mass killings: men who remain part of the power structure while their many crimes are officially excused, covered up, or even celebrated. Adi’s steady, calm confronting of the men responsible for the death of his brother stands as an exemplary display of bravery. However, this act of courage has forced his family to relocate in order to avoid backlash. Funds raised through the True Life Fund will assist Adi and his family in their relocation process, as well as allowing him to secretly travel to screenings of the film around Indonesia, where public dialogue about the genocide of 1965-66 is just beginning to take place. There are many ways to donate. At all True Life Fund screenings, volunteers will pass the hat for the audience to give cash or checks made payable to “True Life Fund.” You can also text any amount to 573.818.2151. The Bertha Foundation provides $15,000 in matching funds. Donations to the True Life Fund are tax deductible to the full extent of the law.
A note from Adi:
"I am deeply grateful to all who contributed to the True Life Fund. I cannot express how meaningful this award is for me and my family. My children will now have a secure future, because with this money we will be able to open an optometry shop in Indonesia. Although I will no longer have to walk door to door to test people’s eyess and sell glasses, I will still listen to whatever stories people will tell me while I test their eyes. I believe change begins when people share their stories. Thank you True/False Film Festival and the people of Columbia, Missouri. You will be dear to me and my family for the rest of our lives."
- 2015: With the continuing generous help from The Crossing and The Bertha Foundation, we were able to raise $35,000 for Adi Rukun, the courageous protagonist of Joshua Oppenheimer's staggering documentary The Look of Silence. Adi plans to use the funds to open his own brick-and-mortar optometry shop in Indonesia.
- 2014: We collected funds to support the work of the courageous advocates and families featured in Cynthia Hill's Private Violence, and a total of $23,000 was sent to four women featured in the film: $10,000 each to Deanna Walters and Kit Gruelle, plus $1,500 each to Stacy Cox and Naomi Jean Kilpatrick. Once again, the TLF was supported with a generous matching grant from the Bertha Foundation.
- 2013: We raised a total of $36,760, with $20,000 going to RISC, an organization founded by the film’s director Sebastian Junger in honor of his fallen colleague and Restrepo co-director, Tim Hetherington. The remainder was given to The Milton Margai School for the Blind. Thanks again to the Bertha Foundation for their matching grant.
- 2012: With the help of a generous matching grant from the Bertha Foundation, we distributed $30,000 to the five brave families featured in Lee Hirsch’s Bully.
- 2011: Working closely with The Interrupters director Steve James and the team at Kartemquin, we raised $15,000 to help three real-life Midwestern superheroes Ameena Matthews, Cobe Williams and Eddie Bocanegra of the anti-violence group CeaseFire.
- 2010: With Enemies of the People co-directors Thet Sambath and Rob Lemkin, the fund sent $10,000 to help Sambath's efforts to interview former members of the Khmer Rogue in Cambodia.
- 2009: With Burma VJ director Anders Østergaard, we sent over $9,000 to support the intrepid, underground journalists featured in his film Burma VJ to help purchase cameras and other equipment vital to their efforts to document the ongoing revolution in Burma.
- 2008: With Very Young Girls director David Schisgall and GEMS (Girls Educational & Mentoring Service) founder Rachel Lloyd, the fund raised $9,000 to provide services to girls recovering from the trauma of sexual exploitation.
- 2007: Working with We Are Together director Paul Taylor and producer Teddy Leifer, the fund raised $8,500 to buy school supplies for the Children of Agape singing choir of South Africa.