In 2012, the festival set several new records. Ticket sales topped 37,500, and with the help of generous matching grant from the Bertha Foundation, True/False audiences raised $30,000 for the five brave families featured in Lee Hirsch’s documentary Bully. With its True Vision award, the festival celebrated the career of Russian director Victor Kossakovsky.
In 2013, the festival celebrated its tenth anniversary and hit several new milestones. Ticket sales surpassed 43,500, a ten-fold increase since our first year. With the help of a generous matching grant from the Bertha Foundation, True/False audiences raised nearly $37,000 for RISC (Reporters Instructed in Saving Colleagues) and the Milton Margai School for Blind, two organizations featured in Which Way is the Front Line From Here?, Sebastian Junger’s portrait of his colleague Tim Hetherington, who died while covering conflict in Libya. Hetherington and Junger co-directed Restrepo (T/F 2010). With its True Vision award, the festival celebrated Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel, the filmmaking team behind Leviathan.
2014’s visual theme Magic/Realism, spotlighted stage magic’s connection to nonfiction filmmakers, as 100 visual artists reinvented venues and other public spaces. T/F introduced the PTA (Pay the Artist) initiative offering all visiting feature filmmakers honoraria in addition to travel expenses, a program intended to be broadly influential. The star/subjects of Cynthia Hill’s Private Violence, Kit Gruelle and Deanna Walters, shined a light on domestic violence while receiving $23,000 in support from audiences and the Bertha Fund. Amir Bar-Lev (Happy Valley, My Kid Could Paint That) was recognized with the mid-career True Vision award. The festival’s music program blossomed, as 40 musical acts played before films, including the return of French street sensations Les Trois Coups and the dynamic Mexican band La Operacion Jarocha.
2015’s visual theme of The Long Now inspired artists of all stripes to reflect on time and what endures. Recognized for the True Vision Award was English filmmaker Adam Curtis, whose relationship with the festival began with 2005’s The Power of Nightmares and continued with 2010’s It Felt Like a Kiss and this year’s Bitter Lake. The True Life Fund raised $35,000 for Adi Rukun of The Look of Silence to to open a brick-and-mortar optometry business in his new community in Indonesia. T/F’s DIY Day began with an event for all of Columbia’s 10th grade students, a standing-room-only screening at the Missouri Theatre of future Oscar nominee, What Happened, Miss Simone? followed by a Q&A with director Liz Garbus. Despite the temporary loss of the festival’s largest venue, Jesse Hall, attendance went back over 45,000 as three new venues filled the gap, and balmy spring weather gave everyone a lift.
Increasingly True/False has taken its place on the world nonfiction stage as a forward-thinking champion of outstanding nonfiction work. We’re immensely proud of how much of a community effort T/F remains — whether it’s downtown restaurants feeding our wandering musicians, high school governments raising money for the True Life Fund, or 800+ mid-Missourians showing up to volunteer.
It’s always been our intention that True/False serve both the international nonfiction community as well as the people of mid-Missouri. While we’re proud of how far the fest has come and the recognition we’ve received, we plan to continue working to make sure that True/False will never lose its homegrown, handmade qualities.