A Newbie’s Adventures at True/False

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Yesterday I forsook my classes and spent 12 hours trudging around Downtown Columbia, using the last of my Shakespeare’s and Starbucks gift cards, standing in Q lines for an hour, and, above all, watching documentaries.

This weekend is the True/False Film Festival— a documentary film festival that comes to Columbia every year in late February/early March. I found out about the festival over the summer, but until this weekend I had no idea how huge it really is.

43 documentaries and three series of shorts are screened over four days at nine venues throughout the Downtown area. Films shown at True/False sometimes go on to be nominated for Academy Awards (such as “The Act of Killing,” which is currently nominated for an Oscar and was at True/False last year), which is completely incredible. Having the opportunity to view some of the year’s best documentaries and participate in a Q&A session with the film’s creators and subjects after the showing is an amazing experience. So far, I have seen three films— “Jodorowsky’s Dune,” “Rich Hill,” and “Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart,” and I have plans to see “Private Violence.”

True/False-goers line up for "Rich Hill." Around 300 Q's were given for the screening.
True/False-goers line up for “Rich Hill.” Around 300 Q’s were given for the screening.

Along with the films, True/False takes over Columbia with art and music from all over the world. Last night an indie band from France performed before a film. Thursday, a latino band from Mexico City. There are pieces of artwork in alleyways and outside theaters. Hipsters with beards and dreadlocks and ear gagues litter the sidewalks as they stand in Q lines or walk to panels with their Canon in one hand and a coffee from Lakota in the other.

But above attending True/False as a spectator, yesterday I had the privilege and honor of covering the fest for MOVE.

I wielded that press pass like it had magical powers and it was invigorating. Scrambling to write reviews between screenings while frantically chugging caramel Frappuccinos is my equivalent to skydiving or bungee jumping or other things normal people do for an adrenaline rush. There’s nothing like the feeling of cranking out a review in record time before heading directly to another Q-line.

I love every moment I’ve spent at True/False— laughing with the fierce Q Queens, making friends while waiting in line for an hour and a half, sitting beside filmmakers at screenings, attending panels led by Criticwire’s editor Sam Adams with other entertainment journalists, and spending a ridiculous amount of money on merchandise.

One major highlight of True/False is the March March, a parade that stretches down 9th street.

The True/False March March parade
The True/False March March parade

I’m not sure what I was expecting from the parade, but I sure was not expecting this. There were people dressed up as Teletubbies, Buzz Lightyear, and Mario. Marching Mizzou played their drums and trumpets. A giant brain was rolled down the street. It was like something out of a really, really weird dream.

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I found an old person at March March dressed as Winnie the Pooh and I was so happy.
I found an old person at March March dressed as Winnie the Pooh and I was so happy.

How lucky am I to have True/False within walking distance from my campus? I can’t wait to continue the festivities this weekend, and I’m looking forward to the next three years.

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