True/False Film Festival

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True/False Film Fest
Location Columbia, Missouri, United States
Hosted by The Ragtag Film Society
Festival date March 1–4, 2018
Language English

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]

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. 

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