True/False is without a doubt my favorite time to be in CoMo.
The True/False Film Festival is four blissful days of film, music and art. Four days of being downtown up to (or, in some cases, over) 12 hours at a time. Four days of spending way too much money on food and festival merchandise. Four days of waiting in Q lines and befriending Q Queens.
Last year, I was fortunate enough to cover the festival for MOVE Magazine, where I got to interview a director and review some films. It was a highlight of my freshman year and a big reason why I signed up to be a True/False volunteer this year.
This past weekend, I gave 15 hours of my time to the festival. I sold merch at the Missouri Theatre and the Box Office — if you needed True/False T-shirts, pocket knives, or bamboo socks, I was your girl.
Before my first shift I was nervous, as only my anxiety-ridden self would be. What if I didn’t get to see all of the films I wanted? What if I fell behind in schoolwork because of all the hours I have to put in? (Spoiler alert: I did). What if I majorly screw up and by the end of my shift the Missouri Theatre/Box Office is crumbling to the ground or going up in flames? I kept playing out these ridiculous scenarios in my head of all the things that could go wrong.
But within an hour of arriving at my first shift, I loved it.
One of the best parts of True/False is the people. I met so many amazing individuals while I was volunteering. These people had dedicated time every year to making everyone’s True/False experience great, and they were incredibly nice. Both of my supervisors bought the whole team Strange Donuts. One of them now follows me on Instagram and spent half of my shift telling me stories of her drunken escapades at the gym. I spent my 15 hours surrounded by fantastic and beautiful human beings.
Merch was such a fun environment to work in. I was surrounded by quirky socks (pictured below) and scarves and shirts and stickers and posters. The Box Office was decked out with tortoise shells and clocks (all centering around this year’s time-related theme, “The Long Now”). I met fest goers who traveled from all over the country — New York, Tennessee, Texas, etc. — just to see some documentaries in little Columbia, Missouri.
Volunteering at True/False is the best way, I think, to immerse yourself in the festival experience. You also get a ton of perks — just to name a few: free films, discounted leftover merch, and the legendary True/False volunteer party, which was the coolest place I have ever been in my entire life.
I still got to see films I wanted to see — “Heaven Knows What,” “Cartel Land,” and my personal favorite, “Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck.” I still got to wander downtown and look at the art and grab food with my friends. Volunteering did not hinder my True/False experience as I had originally feared it would — it made it so much better.
As a volunteer, you’re contributing to something that makes the community great and provides joy to so many people. And there’s no better feeling than being a part of something bigger than you.
Between the time I woke up on Friday and went to bed Sunday, I had gotten, collectively, five or six hours of sleep. I survived on free cups of Kaldi’s coffee (another volunteer perk) and a sugar rush from stuffing my face with donuts. It’s Tuesday night and I’m still exhausted, I’m still behind on school and work, I’m pretty certain I failed yesterday’s astronomy midterm, and I’m still struggling to keep my eyes open because I haven’t had the opportunity to catch up on the sleep I missed this weekend.
But if you’re not completely worn out at the end of True/False, you obviously didn’t do it right.