It’s pretty rare where a single event can bring people from many different backgrounds together. It’s even rarer that this event can happen in Mid-Missouri. This weekend I attended the True/False Film Festival in Columbia, and I couldn’t have spent my time better. It’s an annual event that has nothing but documentary films screened. As of my recent attempt to become a film buff, I’ve really been enjoying my share of docs lately thanks to Netflix. And boy did I enjoy True/False. My only regret was that I didn’t get to see more films.
The event began with my friend Annie reminding me that she had a baller pass to see over 10 of the films and I had yet to order a similar pass online with only a week to go. I decided to rough it and stand in line for individual tickets the day the event began. Thank God I had a 5 hour break between classes to do it. The process was a little confusing. You go to the box office at 9 a.m. to get a ticket to come back to your spot later. My ticket was C-40 and I was to come back at 1. So I did, stood in line for some time while deciding which movies to get tickets too. I had an experience that I’ve only had once in my life before and that was at the Wimbledon Tennis Tournament Queue in London: People standing in line, but not in a hurry. Enjoying the time in line and enjoying meeting people and talking to each other. It was phenomenal the diversity of people all there in a good mood. I honestly expected to see nothing but hipsters at this event, but there were literally all types of people. A guy from Texas taking a survey about the festival, a band from Utah playing on the street corner, old people, young people, well dressed people, scrubbish people, you name it. Eventually, it got to be my turn to order tickets and I just went with my gut. At $6 per ticket for student prices, I decided to just go crazy and get 2 passes to each. I couldn’t have been happier with my choices.
My first film was on Friday night. I had to work a 10 hour shift the next day, so a movie night was just what the doctor ordered. The whole True/False process was new and amazing to me. The screening was in a church that was decorated by some of the over 6,000 volunteers, and it looked great. There was a band playing before the show, which was pretty cool. The film was called “Secret Screening Green.” No, that’s not the actual title of the film, they had to hide the real name because the movie was so new that it hadn’t even had an official opening in the US. This was the first screening in the nation. They told us the actual title, but also urged us not to put it on Facebook, Twitter, blog, or any internet source, so sorry. It was an amazing story about an Indian boy who can run crazy distances (42 miles straight) at only 4 years old. And of course there’s huge controversy with his coach, mom, the government, etc, and the ending is absolutely shocking for a true story. That’s all I got to say about that.
My next movie was a lot closer to home. Made by Stephens College film professors, it followed this guy named Zelinski, who is this crazy conspiracy theorist that thinks the US has human sex trafficking, child slavery, and all this stuff going on right at home along with extreme extreme government corruption. He works his butt off to make it all stop, writing a book a year, and traveling anywhere that will actually hear him, though most people don’t listen. He might believe some crazy stuff, but his dedication for his cause is more that I’ve seen out of anybody. The reason it hit home was because there is actually footage of him on Mizzou’s campus and talking in front of Columbia’s city council. He’s living in town now. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear about him again. It was overall a very well made film for such a local small budget project.
The third was the best. Called Resurrect Dead, it was a true modern mystery that kept the entire audience on the edge of their seat the whole time. It was at Sundance this year (the bee’s knees of all film festivals). Made by Jon Foy, who dropped out of film school to pursue the project, it’s about these mysterious tiles that appeared in the middle of streets in big cities around the world with a message nobody understood. The journey follows a guy who sees them and becomes obsessed with what they mean and who put them there. Check out one of the tiles for yourself, on 7th and Market Street in St. Louis. The movie currently has a 9.8/10 on IMDb, not bad I guess.
All of the films were followed by a little talk with the directors, which was one of my favorite parts. The Q&A with the director for Resurrect Dead made the film even better.
The great thing about True/False is how it brought Columbia to life. It seemed like every business downtown had a sponsor sticker on their window. I heard people talking about it at work. I heard restaurant workers saying how crazy of a weekend it’s going to be due to the event. It was just really nice to be a part of something that seemed so big. I mean 6,000 volunteers, 43 films, over 100 screenings: this is massive. Hearing the director from a Sundance film say that this is one of the most fun he’s ever had at an event says a lot. Hopefully next year the True/False Film Festival doesn’t fall on the same weekend as Mardi Gras again, because I’d love to do both. However, if it does, after going to each, I think I would much rather get an all access pass to T/F. (wink wink, Mom, Christmas, wink wink)
Whether this is True/False, this is what I think I think.