True/False Film Fest isn’t just a weekend — it’s a lifestyle. Well, at least for those four days. Whether it’s your first fest or you’re a veteran of the Q, here are the tips, tricks and must-sees for 2017.
Treat True/False like a vacation in your own town and give yourself an excuse to eat at your favorite downtown restaurants (midday Sparky’s, anyone?) and buy some merch. Even if you’re experienced in downtown eats, there’s almost definitely something you haven’t tried. Also, this year’s theme is “Out of the Ether,” which has generated some cool, science-fiction-looking merch.
Q lines get long, especially for the more popular films. True/False is supposed to be fairly warm this year, so if you’re outside for a long time, you can get dehydrated without realizing it. Bring your favorite reusable water bottle (the fest has a “Green Mission” that emphasizes sustainability, including reducing waste).
Bring your student ID
Students with a valid university ID get into films for $8 instead of $12. If you were planning on spending $12 each on individual films, now you can see three movies for $24 instead of just two! This makes narrowing down your choices easier.
Talk to people around town
True/False definitely isn’t just for Columbia residents; the festival draws people from all over the world. I met some cool people in the Q last year, including one woman who has been to every single True/False. Make those connections! Find yourself a pen pal!
Keep a map with you
Make sure to at least have one that’s accessible on your phone. There are so many theaters around town, and it’s easy to mix them up. Bonus: Keep your Maps app open too so you can know exactly how much time you’ll need to sprint between theaters to make it to all your showings. The True/False website has a handy map that pinpoints theaters, music venues, art installations and other fest-specific sites.
Courtesy of True/False Film Fest
Look for discussions with directors
Many film directors hang out at the festival and attend their own films. Sometimes they’ll give a short talk or accept questions before or after a screening. You can usually find out who will be where by reading the film’s details on the schedule.
Know the lingo
Q? NRT? What? True/False is a lot to take in. There are films, shorts, provocations, art installations, music, synapses, parties and a parade, so there’s a lot of lingo. In short, a film is NRT when you can no longer reserve tickets for it. But don’t worry — you can always try the Q. A Q Queen (flamboyant guide) will give you a number and fill any open seats in that number order. The online schedule has a handy breakdown of what’s what in terms of goings-on, so brush up on that before you head out.
Forget to pick up your tickets or passes
Last year, I thought going to pick up my pass would be quick and easy — a simple errand to run on the morning True/False started. I was WRONG. The box office line was out the door, and it took me about 45 minutes to get all my stuff. That being said, if you go in the middle of the day, you’ll probably have better luck. The box office, located in Sager Braudis Gallery at 1025 E. Walnut St., is open for pass pickup beginning at noon on Wednesday.
Try to do everything
True/False has a ton of events that can seem overwhelming, and you may think you can do it all. From someone who tried that last year — DON’T. Pick your favorites and craft your own perfect weekend by checking the schedule ahead of time.
Neglect the music
True/False has fabulous buskers. Every year, there is a list of great musicians who play before films, at various street concerts throughout the days and at concerts every night. Many are local, which adds to the fun flavor of the fest. There’s a pass dedicated to all the music — the Busker Band, the cheapest pass of the festival and how I started going to True/False. Even if you don’t buy a band, concert covers are generally pretty cheap from night to night.
Wear cute shoes instead of functional ones
I’m sure my fellow high-heel-wearing college students can attest to this. With all the walking and all the standing, your feet will DIE after one day of festival-ing if you don’t wear the right shoes.
Think you have to stay in the Q
While you want to make sure you get there in plenty of time to get your Q number from the Queen, you’re not bound to the line once you have it! Get food, check out the art installations or find a shady spot to relax. Just make sure you’re back by the time they start letting people into the theater.
Thursday, March 2
Brimstone and Glory
Kick off your festival experience with this film, which starts at 5:30 p.m. at Big Ragtag. Brimstone and Glory is 64 minutes long and is described as a “visually acrobatic pilgrimage to Mexico’s National Pyrotechnic Festival.” This one is already NRT (no reserve tickets), which means you’ll need to Q to get in.
Gulistan, Land of Roses
Director Zayne Akyol brings viewers into the world of female guerilla warriors in Kurdistan and explores the cost of freedom. This film starts at 7:30 p.m. at Willy Wilson @ Ragtag. This one is also NRT, so prepare to Q.
Cafe Berlin Thursday Night Showcase
The first of True/False’s busker concerts, this show starts at 9 p.m. at Cafe Berlin and is free for passholders. General admission is $5. Several different bands across varying genres are playing, so you’ll surely find something you like.
Friday, March 3
This film features Cate Blanchett shape-shifting across 13 personas in the span of 90 minutes. It’s described as strange with contagious charm. Check it out at 11 a.m. at the Showtime Theatre at the Blue Note, but be early, as this is another NRT film.
Shorts: The World Laughs With You
Not all of the festival’s films are full-length; there are also short films that play either before various full-length films or in sessions like this. Catch seven different shorts at 3 p.m. at Big Ragtag. Two of them, “The Hollow Coin” and “Project X,” relate to each other. This shorts program is another of many NRT films.
This parade through downtown is a True/False staple where you march in the month March. It’s free, open to the public and super wild. Q Queens show off their glamour, and you can even join the parade if you want.
MNDR DJ Dance Party
MNDR is one of this year’s buskers, and Saturday night will find her bringing down the Blue Note. Her show starts at 11 p.m. and is free for Super/Silver passholders and Busker Bands, with $3 admission for other passholders and $6 general admission.
Saturday, March 4
Field Session: Eye to Eye
True/False has various “synapses” along with films and music, and the Field Sessions are one of them. This one brings together directors Shevaun Mizrahi (Distant Constellation) and Jeff Unay (The Cage Fighter) to talk about their special effects and tricks. Catch this at 10:30 a.m. at the Little Chapel @ The Picturehouse. It’s free and open to the public.
This film, from director Alma Har’el, follows three stories of young love in Hawaii, Alaska and New York City. It’s sure to be emotional and is described as a “poignant exploration” of love. See LoveTrue (NRT) at 12:30 p.m. at the Missouri Theatre. Har’el will be there in person as well.
Explore Chinese feminism in this film from director Fan Jian, who follows a feminist Chinese poet whose work goes viral. Unfortunately, this success doesn’t please her longtime husband. You can still reserve tickets for this film, which starts at 5 p.m. at Rhynsburger Theatre.
I Am Not Your Negro
This is the Oscar-nominated story of James Baldwin, a great American essayist and gay black man exiled to France. It’s framed as a letter to Baldwin's publisher as he pitches a book about MLK, Malcolm X and Medgar Evers. This film starts at 6:45 p.m. at Jesse Auditorium and even though it is NRT, MU students can get tickets for $6 at the MSA/GPC Box Office in the Student Center.
Rose Saturday Night After Party
There’s no shortage of partying at True/False. Keep your Saturday rocking at Rose Music Hall starting at 9:30 p.m. with The Big Sky, Max and the Martians, Very Be Careful and Jack Grelle. Super/Silver, Lux and Juggernaut passholders get in free, as well as Busker Bands. General admission is $5.
Sunday, March 5
Secret Screening Xenon
Every year, there is a series of “Secret Screening” films, each named along the theme of that year’s festival. The other two this year are Argon and Krypton. Secret Screening films have very basic descriptions that reveal few details, hence the “secret.” Catch at least one of these this weekend. Xenon is playing Sunday at 1 p.m. at Big Ragtag and is NRT.
This film focuses on the 2014 events in Ferguson, Missouri, following the death of Michael Brown and the activism and community that arose as a result. Whose Streets? starts at 3:30 p.m. at the Showtime Theatre at the Blue Note and is NRT.
Buskers Last Stand
Close out the festival “with a tear and a beer” at the Missouri Theatre starting at 9:30 p.m. This “instant wake” brings together festival-goers, buskers and film directors as everyone joins in the lobby of the theater to reminisce about everything that just happened.
For all you night owls, Toasted is a talk show at Cafe Berlin that starts at 12:30 a.m. and goes until about 4 a.m. Eat waffles at Cafe Berlin and chat with Nicolas Rapold, a “film scribbler” about the weekend’s events. This is free and open to the public.
Edited by Katherine White | email@example.com