The air outside has turned icy, and students walk home from evening classes in darkness. It’s winter, so the holiday fever has ensued. Starbucks is serving foamy lattes in red and green, snowflake-covered cups, radio stations are blasting chestnut themed songs and, for many, gift shopping panic has already began. But Santa has an easy job around Columbia – and you can too.
Freshman Lauren Puckett already knows what will be in her stocking by late December, because she requested it months ago. Columbia, Mo., is home to one of Time Magazine’s top 50 cultural experiences – the True/False Film Festival. This weekend celebration, which falls this coming year from Feb. 22 to March 2, 2014, draws crowds from across the world. True/False shows dozens of documentaries, hand selected by co-founders, David Wilson and Paul Sturtz.
“True/False presents Columbia at its best,” Wilson said. “For four days downtown is transformed into a world of art, music and lots of film. The movies are thrilling, sad, funny, motivational and, best of all, 100 percent true. Plus, each movie is accompanied by the director, on hand to answer questions and talk about their film.”
Wilson’s favorite part of True/False weekend is the March March, an annual parade down 9th Street that features colorful costumes, people-powered floats and marching bands. The parade kick-starts the weekend.
But, for Puckett, it’s the films that stand out. She’s very choosy and uses her limited tickets (some of the local venues that True/False uses at theatres are on the small side) – and time – wisely. Puckett said she went into True/False the first time with the cinematic education of a “preschooler,” having seen only a few documentaries in her life – most while sitting in the dreary back row of a high school biology class. So, on her first encounter with the festival Puckett said she “wasn’t prepared in the slightest for the culture shock that is True/False.”
“I shuffled inside with all the rest of the hippies, took my seat near the front, and instantly made friends with a photographer,” Puckett said. “Then I listened to a fantastic girl vocal band. Then I watched a trailer that made me cry. And finally, I watched a documentary that completely changed the way I thought about the music business. In fact, I think it changed the way I thought about life a little bit.
“And I think that’s what epitomizes True/False. It challenges your thoughts about life. It makes you realize what’s terrible in this world – but also what’s absolutely wonderful in this world.”
All in all, the weekend is pretty magical, but tickets go fast – so people should start planning now, according to Puckett. Tickets are available online at True/False, and passes range in price. The beauty of different pass types, Puckett said, is that you can purchase just what someone would want. You only want music? The busker band pass ($30) is for you. Just want to see a few films but don’t have too much time? The simple pass ($75) is probably your way to go. If you’re a film nut, a music junkie and just need to meet some of the famous attendees? Your best bet is the silver circle pass ($400).
“[True/False] makes you want to change the bad things, so that we might someday reach those absolutely wonderful things we only see once in a blue moon,” Puckett said. “I don’t know, I don’t say this very often, because I like to think words are all powerful and you can describe anything, but True/False is pretty indescribable.”
A little holiday jingle to get you in the spirit –
(Sung to the tune of “Chestnuts Roasting on a Open Fire”)
Booches’ burger toasting on an open fire,
And Sparky’s dripping off your nose,
True Life runners filling up the roads,
And Marchers dressed up like ‘bots and bros.
Everybody knows, a Lux pass and some Harp-os,
Help to make the weekend tight,
Tiny theatre spots, with their volunteers all in snow,
Will mind the Q in line tonight.
They know that David and Paul are on their way,
They’ve got lots of documentaries for us to play,
And every mother’s child is going to cry,
When they look a killer whale in the eye.
So, I’m offering a simple phrase,
To the festival that’s now in TIMES too,
Although your button is red, and it’s many times away,
A very, merry True/False, to you.