The most important documentary festival in America.
For four days each March, Columbia, Missouri, is the epicenter of what might be called creative cinematic nonfiction.The True/False Film Fest… is the rarest of festivals—[showing] documentary filmmakers thinking about what they’re doing and making that thinking integral to their films.
The nonfiction film festival True/False is the perfect place to explore the outer limits of truth in a world struggling to make sense of alternative facts....It’s clear that the ideas that percolate at True/False don’t stop at the Columbia city limits. [It] may be ground zero, but everyone who attends becomes a host for these ideas making their way into the world.
True/False’s commitment to “creative nonfiction” feels genuinely groundbreaking. A more flexible definition of the form allows True/False to experiment with the possibilities of nonfiction film-making. Their inventive, risky programming is some of the most thoughtful I’ve seen at any festival.
I LOVE True False! For filmmakers coming there it becomes almost surreal in a wonderful way - that there is this little utopian place - a whole town where people really, really love docs. A fantastic ambience - a wonderworld for film lovers. It's often an early stop in the life of a film on the festival circuit but should really be the last because it's extremely hard to beat.
If there was one festival that I would recommend to anyone involved or interested in documentary filmmaking, it would be True/False. The whole town is alive with passionate debate about documentaries, the films they show are really well chosen and [they] were brilliant hosts.
It’s truly one of the best documentary experiences to be had – and I can see now why people return year after year.
I have joined the apostles of T/F and spread the gospel far and wide. I’ve been to festivals all over the world, but T/F is special. The audiences are passionate and engaged. The films are brilliantly curated. But, more than anything, there’s an incredible sense of community. My only regret of the Oscars was that I couldn’t go to True/False.
T/F is like a great documentary: thoughtful and intelligent without the pretension; full of love and joy without being sappy: driving, fun and energetic while maintaining a brilliant pace. And full of unexpected surprises at just the right moments. And like any great film, it gives a feeling of vitality and leaves you wanting more.
Over four days I clocked 12 films, 1/2 dozen parties, conversed with 127 of the 1000+ volunteers and had many street conversations that started along the lines of "I loved your film...". In between all that, I ate and drank very well. Now my next big challenge is to make a film that gets me back.
I love True/False for what it lacks: pretentiousness. That alone would make it my favorite film festival. So it's almost ironically ostentatious they also program the best documentaries of the year, host incredibly fun parties and attract perhaps the most welcoming, engaged and enthusiastic audiences of any festival in the U.S.
True/False is the festival where you get to see the best documentaries of year and then drink afterwards with their directors. Need I say more?
My love for True/False runs deep - from the smart programming, passionate audiences, inspired buskers, and fabulous venues.
I really don't want to have to leave the fest. Ever. Thank you for the curation, inspiration, stimulation, rejuvenation, and inebriation.
True/False is all about loving movies in good company. Every screening is packed with people who are ready to laugh and to cry and to come out talking about what they've seen. And how many festivals do you get to attend where you actually want to see all the films? I got snowed in for an extra day and all I could think was: "this is great. I don't have to leave yet!
The indie film community is no longer divided between those who've heard or not heard of T/F, but between those who've drunk the Kool-Aid and those who've had...testimonies pushed on them like an elixir. The top documentarians and programmers and funders from around the world now routinely trek to Columbia, where they're joined by a multiplying contingent of film critics, sharing in the spoils of adventurous programming and campus-town culture. For True/False is rather explicitly about the blurring of lines-between documentary and narrative film, between local and international communities, and yes, between art and criticism.
The True/False Film Fest, a documentary-focused program that started this year’s run on Thursday, has become one of the most respected film festivals in the country, if not internationally.
It was such a massive pleasure and privilege to get to premiere at True/False. The response has been enormously gratifying and the audiences superb. I’ve never been to a better festival!
By far the most intelligent and enjoyable festival of film I have been to. The range of films showed a real imagination in programming, and the festival managed to attract an extraordinary range of top-class filmmaking from around the world. And all this happened in a tiny town in the middle of America which was completely involved in the festival -- and also gave fantastic parties. It's a brilliant idea for a festival, completely unique, and I loved it.
Over the past few years, True/False has come to occupy an unshakable place in the hearts of many of us who make documentaries. Few festivals are guided by truer motives and none are organized by a team of people more deeply committed to documentaries.
How often does anything truly live up to expectations? How common is it for our false hopes to be dashed by too much hype? What a wonder to experience a weekend that went so far beyond our imaginings. We were beyond dazzled by the expert organization, warm reception and friendly audiences. True/False reminded me what our film community actually feels like and why I love it so much.
Thank you for the most profound and rewarding experience of my professional life.
It was all a carefully orchestrated art piece (where) I was subtly guided through events that made me think about the spirit of DIY combined with the strength of a community, about absurdity, sheer randomness, the fight with doc purism and what is true and false...If a new documentary movement is to be born anywhere in the US, it's going to be inspired by True/False.
True/False is nirvana. When I went to True/False, I remembered what I sometimes forget: the unalloyed joy of making and watching docs.
Something of a cinematic miracle of the American Midwest, the True/False Film Festival in Columbia, Missouri enjoys a steadily spreading cult status among filmmakers and critics.
The relaxed vibe, all the unique ideas, the lack of pretentiousness, the great food, the music, the people, the parties, the films of course, some of which left me reeling - it was "hyggeligt" as they say in Copenhagen (translated unappealingly as "cozy" but in Denmark a real compliment). I thought I was going to make a fiction, but now I better make another doc before I get too old so I can try to get back...
The atmosphere of communal enthusiasm verges on the utopian...and leads to talk of Jonestown Kool-Aid—but the festival’s fun should not overshadow that it is programmed with discernment...T/F is to supporters and practitioners of formally ambitious documentary what Burning Man is to granola-heads and tech zillionaires.
TF represented what I wish life was like everyday. Docs, people who make them, people who love them, parades, drinking, beautiful women, no bed times, accordion-playing gorillas. True/False was not only the best festival I've ever been to, but one of the finest moments of my life.
I love all of the quirks that make it really feel like a FESTIVAL rather than just a group of screenings -- the music and the involvement of the town and the photo booth at the secret party, and ... You have found a way to inject that spirit into the DNA of the entire festival, so that, it seemed like (everything) had the same spirit of quality and whimsy and just unpretentious appreciation of people and stories and life.
The exemplary True/False festival...An advocate and a beacon for good filmmaking, period.
Thanks for inviting me to utopia. I was moved to tears on many occasions, no lie, and I honestly felt like my internal emotional barometer just got re-calibrated. The people and the place are brilliant. The details were sparkling. This whole thing is worth fighting for!
The more festivals I attend, the more my (already) intense love and appreciation of True/False grows. When people ask why I love it so much, I say 'because it's a festival, in the truest sense of the word. It's a celebration... of filmmaking, of music, of let's-get-togetherness. It's full of revelry, feasting, merrymaking, good conversation, provocation, significance and fun.
A real achievement -- and judging by the turn out at the films, one which the town embraced with open arms. It was an honour to be associated with T/F.
Your festival was a revelation. Thank you from the bottom of my normally skeptical docmaker's dark heart for showing me that docs remain inspirational, fun and something people will go and watch in a theater.
Without concern for premiere status or awards, True/False allows attendees to truly focus on the art and craft of documentary filmmaking. A deeply democratic spirit prevails - there is a reason why filmmakers make the trek to Columbia, leave glowing after the experience, and keep coming back. For myself, I went to True/False as a first -time filmmaker, but returned home as part of a much wider community.
True/False is one of the smartest and most original festivals in the U.S. More curated than programmed, it reminds me of a young Rotterdam Film Festival.
True/False feels handmade, curated. This is a warm, inviting festival... one-stop shopping for the most noteworthy nonfiction filmmaking happening in the world.
A little utopia. It has a great spirit, inspired and eclectic programming, audiences that are super excited to see movies and an all-star cast of out-of-town filmmakers
Compressing a heady mix of filmgoing and socializing into a long weekend, the event seems both intensely curatorial and casually eccentric.
For all of us True/False was a real revelation: knowledgeable, appreciative audiences and an almost instant sense of community among the filmmakers...The whole festival was marked by a thoughtful, hand-crafted feeling that cut right to the genuine.
Is it too much to say that T/F changes the nature of reality for a few days? Perhaps that is why you use all those alchemical images in your pre-show videos. Whatever the magic, it feels like a balm for everything that is wrong with the world - with the occasional hint at the cure.
The bestest bestest time! Thanks for showing me it’s possible to have 1,000+ people sit through my film and actually stay for the q&a at midnight. And I got a momentary taste of an alternate universe teenhood as I found my new bffs and got up to minor hijinks. IT’S ALL GONNA BE DOWNHILL FROM HERE.
I know how cliché that sounds, but T/F was simply dazzling to me... True/False gave a wonderful exposure to this film and helped bring some attention to it. I surely hope to be able to come back someday, with or without a film, just for the pleasure of being amongst such an amazing crowd.
A hard-hitting, raucous, joyous celebration... infectious energy and enthusiasm was on display all weekend. Your programming is second to none, and your efficiency and organization is undoubtedly the best that I've witnessed from a festival. The True Life Fund is truly outstanding, and something that we can only hope might be taken up in other forms by other doc fests. For me, as a producer, I am so extremely gratified to be able know that this film we made will be able to have such a tangible and positive impact on Rocío and Aldana. It's a huge gift.
You guys have something truly special on your hands, and I'm going to do my damndest to get to Columbia every year henceforth.
The visionary curation of films is perfection, so that audiences have come to trust their taste... Every film is there for the right reasons, no exception. Their insistence that filmmakers attend in person is vital, and I love the fest’s meaningful and beautiful collaborations with local artists, businesses, students, and community, because it makes for such a rich experience for everyone. Examples vary from the breathtaking artwork to the awesomely fun parties to the thoughtful hosting.