For 12 years, the annual True/False Film Fest has turned Columbia, Missouri, into a Mecca for those who love documentary film. This year, the four-day festival begins March 5 and will draw thousands of film enthusiasts to downtown Columbia.
The festival attracts filmmakers and viewers from around the world. Art and culture collide in a beautiful celebration, through such forms as documentary films and shorts, musical performances, and art displays.
The True/False Film Fest is a program of the not-for-profit organization, the Ragtag Film Society. The mission, according to the True/False website is to “champion the best new nonfiction filmmaking.” From its beginning, many Academy Award nominees and winners have participated in the event, which validates the goal of the True/False mission. Attendance has exploded from an audience of a little more than 1,000 people in the first year to more than 40,000 tickets sold in 2013.
True/False originally used three venues: The Blue Note, Ragtag Cinema, and Missouri Theatre. Now attendees will view films in more than a dozen locations. The festival’s largest auditorium, Jesse Hall, is currently being renovated leading to a few challenges for organizers. Another change to the festival this year is the “transition to full digital projection throughout the fest,” as stated on the True/False website’s welcome page.
As part of the celebration of talent in filmmaking, the True/False Film Fest honors a filmmaker or team of filmmakers with the True Vision Award — the only award given at the festival. Each year, a recipient is chosen “whose work shows a dedication to the creative advancement of the art of nonfiction filmmaking,” as described by the True/False website. The 2008 True Vision Award was given to Oscar winner Alex Gibney for his film “Taxi to the Dark Side.” When accepting his award, Gibney said: “this is my first stop after that event in Hollywood. I looked at that as a warm-up to the True/False.”
The 2015 True Vision Award will be awarded to Adam Curtis, a British filmmaker, whose work has been shown at the film festival in the past. He is known for such films as “The Century of Self,” “The Trap: What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom,” and “The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear.” Curtis’s film, “Bitter Lake,” will be shown on Friday, March 6, at the Missouri Theatre; Saturday, March 7, at Cornell Hall; and Sunday, March 8, at the Rhynsburger Theatre. Among the variety of films slated for the festival is Tonje Hessen Schei’s, “Drone,” a documentary about new technology used in warfare. The film is a graphic and emotional depiction of how the usage of drones has changed the atmosphere of culture for targeted communities.
The True/False Film Fest is designed to be both educational and entertaining, and the ever-growing audience shows the level of interest in independent art and culture. Within the next week, downtown Columbia will be filled, once again, with exciting festivities centered on world-class documentaries, art exhibits and musical performances. For information on tickets and schedules, visit the True/False website.