True/False Film Festival

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True/False Film Fest
LocationColumbia, Missouri, United States
Hosted byThe Ragtag Film Society
Festival dateFebruary 28 - March 3, 2019

The True/False Film Fest is an annual documentary film festival that takes place in Columbia, Missouri. The fest occurs on a weekend toward the end of February or the beginning of March, with films being shown from Thursday evening to Sunday night. Films are screened at multiple locations around downtown Columbia, including the Ragtag Cinema, Jesse Hall, Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts, The Picturehouse, The Blue Note, The Globe, Rhynsburger Theater and the Forrest Theater in the Tiger Hotel.


True/False was started by Paul Sturtz and David Wilson (who also founded the Ragtag Cinema) in February 2004.[1] In 2006, it won the Riverfront Times best film festival.[2] In 2008, the film fest lost 1,200 seats due to the renovation work taking place at the Missouri Theatre. To adjust for the loss, the fest expanded beyond its usual boundaries in order to take advantage of additional screens at Macklanburg Cinema, Windsor Cinema, and The Den on the campus of Stephens College. After the completion of its restoration, the historic Missouri Theatre was once again a featured venue for the 2009 edition of the fest.[3] The True/False Film Fest and Stephens College amicably ended their partnership after the 2011 fest, and Stephens College continues to host the annual Citizen Jane Film Festival every fall.[4]


The first True/False Film Festival in 2004 sold 4,200 tickets and the fest has since experienced rapid growth, increasing attendance by 25% or more in all but two years through its first decade.[5] Since then, the festival has increased attendance each year with the exception of 2014, which saw a 3% decrease amid a winter snowstorm.[5][6] The latest event in 2017 saw another record high in ticket sales, nearly 3,000 more than 2016.[7][8]

Over the years, the festival has expanded its presentation of other arts, including music and decorative art.[9][10] The event kicks off with a parade, the "March March," and ends with "Buskers Last Stand," in which many of the invited musicians come together for a closing performance. It encourages additional attendee involvement through participatory events like the "True Life 5K run,"[11] and the "Gimme Truth!" game show. The festival has risen from its meager origins to earn recent praise from both the Chicago Tribune[12] and Los Angeles Times.[13]


Media Literacy Initiative[edit]

In early 2016, Columbia Public Schools, Ragtag Film Society, and the Columbia Public Schools Foundation announced a new, landmark multi-year partnership that brings together film, the CPS curriculum, and teacher training. The Media Literacy initiative is a year-round program that supports teacher efforts to incorporate more film and multimedia into their classrooms.

The program champions the belief that as students catapult into a world of ever-changing media, distribution platforms, and news outlets, the skills to be thoughtful, critical consumers of media must grow. Students deserve the tools to think consciously about the ways their world is presented to them and the ways they present their world. The primary goals are to increase the presence of film in core classrooms, help teachers and students learn to read film as text, and to cultivate and enhance critical thinking skills as teachers and students practice analyzing new media.

Camp True/False[edit]

Camp True/False brings high school students with varying interests insider access the fest for a weekend of exciting films, music, art, conversations and workshops with a diverse crew of exceptional guests and local hosts. Camp True/False convenes before the Fest to discuss relevant issues, share research and plot their course. All Columbia Public Schools participate, as well as 10 out-of-town schools (4 of those, out-of-state).

DIY Day[edit]

On the Friday morning of the Fest, 10th graders from across all four Columbia public high schools take busses to the Missouri Theatre where their unique True/False experience begins. The students watch buskers and a festival film (listed below, by year), and students are encouraged to participate in a Q&A with the filmmaker. Afterward, 200 self-selected students attend interactive artist workshops and join in the anyone-can-join March March parade.

Educational Screening Films[edit]

2018: Won't You Be My Neighbor?, dir. Morgan Neville

2017: I Am Not Your Negro, dir. Raoul Peck

2016: The Bad Kids, dir. Keith Fulton & Lou Pepe

2015: What Happened Miss Simone?, dir. Liz Garbus

2014: Particle Fever, dir. Mark Levinson

2013: Crash Reel dir. Lucy Walker


Title Director (s) Year Runtime Type Program
Abacus: Small Enough to Jail Steve James 2017 Feature
All Good Things Chloe Domont 2017 Short The New Family
Antonio, Dashing Antonio Ana Maria Gomez 2017 Short Edith + Eddie + Antonio
Balloonfest Nathan Truesdell 2017 Short The World Laughs With You
Best of Luck with the Wall Josh Begley 2017 Short Making Good Neighbors
Adriana's Pact Lissette Orozco 2018 96 min Feature
América Erick Stoll & Chase Whiteside 2018 75 min Feature
American Animals Bart Layton 2018 116 min Feature
António e Catarina Cristina Haneș 2018 40 min Feature
Artemio Sandra Luz López Barroso 2018 48 min Feature
Bisbee '17 Robert Greene 2018 118 min Feature
Black Mother Khalik Allah 2018 77 min Feature
Caniba Verena Paravel & Lucien Castaing-Taylor 2018 97 min Feature
Combat Obscura Miles Lagoze 2018 67 min Feature
Crime + Punishment Stephen Maing 2018 112 min Feature
The Family Rok Biček 2018 106 min Feature
Flight of a Bullet Beata Bubenec 2018 81 min Feature
La Flor de la Vida Adriana Loeff & Claudia Abend 2018 86 min Feature
Gabriel and the Mountain Fellipe Barbosa 2018 131 min Feature
Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami Sophie Fiennes 2018 115 min Feature
Hale County This Morning, This Evening RaMell Ross 2018 76 min Feature
Kinshasa Makambo Dieudo Hamadi 2018 75 min Feature
Love Means Zero Jason Kohn 2018 89 min Feature
Lovers of the Night Anna Frances Ewert 2018 57 min Feature
Makala Emmanuel Gras 2018 96 min Feature
MATANGI / MAYA / M.I.A. Steve Loveridge 2018 96 min Feature
National Diploma Dieudo Hamadi 2018 92 min Feature True Vision Award Repertory Series (2014)
The Next Guardian Dorottya Zurbó & Arun Bhattarai 2018 74 min Feature
Handsworth Songs John Akomfrah 2018 61 min Feature Neither/Nor (1986)
Twilight City Reece Auguiste 2018 53 min Feature Neither/Nor (1989)
Testament John Akomfrah 2018 79 min Feature Neither/Nor (1988)
Who Needs a Heart? John Akomfrah 2018 78 min Feature Neither/Nor (1991)
Of Fathers and Sons Talal Derki 2018 98 min Feature
Our New President Maxim Pozdorovkin 2018 78 min Feature
Playing Men Matjaž Ivanišin 2018 61 min Feature
The Price of Everything Nathaniel Kahn 2018 98 min Feature
Primas Laura Bari 2018 100 min Feature True Life Fund
The Rider Chloé Zhao 2018 105 min Feature
Self-Portrait: Birth in 47KM ZHANG Mengqi 2018 101 min Feature
SHAKEDOWN Leilah Weinraub 2018 69 min Feature
Shirkers Sandi Tan 2018 96 min Feature
Taming the Horse GU Tao 2018 129 min Feature
The Task Leigh Ledare 2018 120 min Feature
Three Identical Strangers Tim Wardle 2018 96 min Feature
Voices of the Sea Kim Hopkins 2018 99 min Feature
Westwood Lorna Tucker 2018 83 min Feature
Won't You Be My Neighbor? Morgan Neville 2018 94 min Feature

True Vision Award[edit]

The True/False Film Fest offers a single award. The True Vision Award is given annually to the filmmaker, or filmmakers, whose work shows a dedication to the creative advancement of the art of nonfiction filmmaking. Each winner is presented with an original bronze sculpture, created by nationally known Columbia artist Larry Young.

Year Recipient(s) Film*
2004 Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky Metallica: Some Kind of Monster
2005 Stephen Marshall This Revolution
2006 Kirby Dick Chain Camera
2007 Brett Morgen Nimrod Nation
2008 Alex Gibney Gonzo and Taxi to the Dark Side
2009 Kim Longinotto Rough Aunties
2010 Laura Poitras The Oath
2011 James Marsh Project Nim
2012 Victor Kossakovsky ¡Vivan las Antipodas!
2013 Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel Leviathan
2014 Amir Bar-Lev Happy Valley
2015 Adam Curtis Bitter Lake
2016 Mehrdad Oskouei Starless Dreams
2017 Claire Simon The Graduation
2018 Dieudo Hamadi Kinshasa Makambo

*The newest film presented by the chosen winner in each year's festival.

True Life Fund[edit]

Since 2007, the True/False Film Fest has also featured the True Life Fund, a fundraising program which goes to demonstrate that documentaries can create change by offering tangible assistance to the real-life subjects of a new non-fiction film each year. The fund further acknowledges that documentary filmmakers and festivals thrive because of the stories provided by people of often limited means. The Bertha Foundation and The Crossing (a Missouri church group) have assisted greatly in these fundraising efforts.[14]

Year Film Director(s) Funds Raised Supported Cause
2007 We Are Together Paul Taylor $8,500 Purchase school supplies for the Children of Agape singing choir of South Africa.[14]
2008 Very Young Girls David Schisgall $9,000 Provide services to girls recovering from the trauma of sexual exploitation, through GEMS (Girls Educational & Mentoring Service).
2009 Burma VJ Anders Østergaard $9,000 Purchase equipment for underground journalists in Burma.
2010 Enemies of the People Thet Sambath and Rob Lemkin $10,000 Help efforts to interview former members of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.[15]
2011 The Interrupters Steve James $15,000 Help Ameena Matthews, Cobe Williams and Eddie Bocanegra of the anti-violence group CeaseFire.
2012 Bully Lee Hirsch $30,000 Help the five families featured in the film, which were victimized by bullying.[15]
2013 Restrepo Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington $36,760 Support RISC (Reporters Instructed in Saving Colleagues) and The Milton Margai School for the Blind.[15]
2014 Private Violence Cynthia Hill $23,000 Support the work of Deanna Walters, Kit Gruelle, Stacy Cox and Naomi Jean Kilpatrick.
2015 The Look of Silence Joshua Oppenheimer $35,000 Support Adi Rukun's efforts to open an optometry shop in Indonesia.
2016 Sonita Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami $43,000 Provide assistance for Sonita, an Afghani musician and undocumented Iranian immigrant.
2017 Quest Jonathan Olshefski $34,750 Support Christopher and Christine'a Rainey's in-home studio for North Philadelphia neighborhood recording artists.
2018 Primas Laura Bari [To Be Announced] Suppor Rocío and Aldana's future artistic and collegiate endeavors.[16]


  1. ^ Seely, Mike (February 24, 2005). "Too Good to Be True". Pitch Movies. Kansas City Pitch LLC. Archived from the original on September 9, 2012. Retrieved February 26, 2017.
  2. ^ "Best Film Festival: True/False Film Festival". RFT Riverfront Times. Riverfront Times. 2006. Retrieved February 26, 2017.
  3. ^ Lucy, Evan; Monnig, Alex (February 26, 2009). "True/False: Everybody Knows Your Name". Vox Magazine. Columbia Missourian. Retrieved February 26, 2017.
  4. ^ Wilder, Amy (October 18, 2015). "Worlds Collide: Citizen Jane Film Festival Combines Homegrown Talent, Universal Stories". Columbia Daily Tribune. GateHouse Media LLC. Retrieved February 26, 2017.
  5. ^ a b Bland, Pete (March 7, 2016). "True/False attendance hits 49.5K, another record high". Columbia Daily Tribune. Retrieved March 7, 2017.
  6. ^ Jost, Ashley (March 2, 2014). "Winter weather won't stop True/False Film Fest". Columbia Daily Tribune. Retrieved March 7, 2017.
  7. ^ "Film fest ticket sales top figures from 2016". Columbia Daily Tribune. March 7, 2017. Retrieved March 7, 2017.
  8. ^ Lombardo, Lauren (March 6, 2017). "True/False Film Fest reels in bigger audience". Columbia Missourian. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
  9. ^ Watkins, Caroline (February 22, 2017). "True/False sets the stage with diverse lineup of musicians". Move Magazine. The Maneater Student Newspaper. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
  10. ^ Sands, Gracie (February 28, 2017). "True/False art 'sparks an interaction'". Move Magazine. The Maneater Student Newspaper. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
  11. ^ Smith, Rebecca (March 8, 2016). "Beyond the Films: The True Life Run". KBIA. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
  12. ^ Phillips, Michael (March 7, 2016). "True/False puts the 'festive' in film festival". Chicago Tribune. Columbia, MO. Retrieved March 8, 2017. ...[H]ere's what other festivals, both smaller and larger, can learn from True/False: It's fun. It's a community blowout. Our own multiplex-bound Chicago International Film Festival seems boxy and square by comparison, in more ways than one.
  13. ^ Zeitchik, Steven (March 10, 2017). "In the age of alternative facts, decoding truth in documentary". Los Angeles Times. Columbia, MO. Retrieved March 14, 2017. ...[T]he four-day film festival has evolved into the country’s premiere documentary venue...
  14. ^ a b Earle, Jade (February 28, 2013). "The True Life Fund gives back to doc causes". Vox Magazine. Columbia Missourian. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
  15. ^ a b c McCarty, Morgan (February 1, 2014). "Finding Truth: The True Life Fund supports the lives behind the lens". Inside Columbia Magazine. Outfront Communications. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
  16. ^ "True Life Fund - True/False Film Fest". Retrieved 2018-05-03.

External links[edit]