From MOVE’s archives: New festival questions, fact and fiction

By Zac Gall | March 1, 2016

Tags: From the Archives True/False 2016 True/False Film Fest


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This is MOVE’s very first article on True/False from 2004. Our favorite part? “Wilson said he believes the festival will garner national attention, even in the first year.” Now that True/False is the one of the top documentary film festivals in the country, this is just that much better.

Perhaps the only form of documentary most college students are familiar with is the notorious Paris Hilton sex tape. Or if it's quality they desire, the Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson predecessor.

Regardless, documentary filmmakers tape their subjects without rehearsal, and generally there is no prepared script. The actors in the films are real people in a natural environment, whether they're having copious sex or researching political issues such as gun control.

The inherent purpose of a documentary is to present the truth of its subject. Various elements contribute to the appearance of this reality.

Yet in a time when ethics seem obsolete, viewers have to maintain awareness even when viewing a factual film or one based on true story. Issues have surfaced in recent years about ethical standards in post-production of documentary films, especially in Michael Moore's "Bowling for Columbine." Skeptics have suggested the editors spliced in shots of Moore interviewing National Rifle Association President Charlton Heston when he may or may not have been present.

The line between reality and fiction merge this weekend at the premier True/False Film Festival.

The festival presents 29 films on a variety of subjects. Other activities include workshops for young and potential filmmakers, the Show-Me Love contest featuring shorts from Columbia locals and other festivities.

Creators David Wilson and Paul Sturtz, who started the Ragtag Film Series, birthed the idea from a love for the documentary genre.

"There's a ton of film festivals out there that cover almost all conceivable areas," Wilson said. "And there aren't any that we feel really give attention to this new wave of documentaries, especially work that blends documentary and narrative cinema together."

Columbia has seen some traveling film festivals in the past, but True/False marks one of the first festivals to grow from within the city. Wilson said he believes the festival will garner national attention, even in the first year.

True/False has undoubtedly gained the attention of filmmakers from around the country. Of the 29 films shown this year, 31 directors, producers, editors and stars will be on hand in Columbia to present their films, answer questions and lead workshops. Many of the films currently are in competition or have won awards at film festivals worldwide, including the Academy Awards.

Wilson, Sturtz and company provided transportation for many filmmakers to make the trip during the hectic season of film festivals.

"We put a lot of effort into bringing them in," Wilson said. "We looked at how we wanted to identify our festival. And we thought what makes it really special is not just going to see a movie, but being able to see it with the director there."

Director Jesse Moss will showcase his award-winning film, "Speedo: A Demolition Derby Love Story." It follows the tumultuous life of a driver in and out of the racing pit. Moss has gained national attention with this film, which PBS picked up for broadcast next year, and a current project, which follows Arnold Schwarzenegger on his gubernatorial campaign. Filmmaker Magazine named him one of the 25 new faces of independent film.

"True/False is great because there are not very many (documentary film festivals) in this country," Moss said. "It's an honor to have the film as a part of the festival. It's an honor to be in the company of so many great films."

While Moss will not show the film personally, his "ambassador of goodwill" Ed "Speedo" Jager, will be present to field questions.

The True/False Film Festival is an event that Wilson hopes will spark a desire to draw in films and filmmakers annually.

"We wouldn't have even started the project if we didn't want to create something that would be here every year," he said.

Check for the film schedule.

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