For a city that thrives upon its lively downtown, riddled with cultural landmarks that help brand it as one of the hippest places to live in Missouri, it should come as no surprise that Columbia is home to an independent film theater renowned throughout the entire country.
Ragtag Cinema, going strong since its founding in 2000 by two indie-flick directors, Paul Sturtz and David Wilson, offers an outlet for community members and MU students to see films they wouldn’t necessarily spot at their local multiplex.
“My favorite thing about Ragtag in general is how the love of movies brings so many different people with different backgrounds together,” Ragtag membership coordinator Lindsay Yungbluth says.
Since its inception, Ragtag has enriched the Columbia community by promoting film as an art form and encouraging media literacy, education and a general appreciation for independent film. The countless perks of Ragtag include its inviting environment and staff, its unique seating and concessions and, of course, the brilliant films it offers.
Seating in the theater consists of huge, comfortable leather couches, while its next-door-neighbor Uprise Bakery offers not only popcorn, but also pastries, soups, salads and high-quality drinks. (The building, dubbed “Hittsville,” also houses Ninth Street Video on Hitt and Hitt Records).
In addition to the movies it offers year-round, Ragtag plays a crucial role in Columbia’s own True/False Film Festival — in fact, if it weren’t for Ragtag, there would be no True/False. Not only does the theater sponsor the fest and screen many of its films: True/False boasts Sturtz and Wilson as its “co-conspirators.” The duo founded the festival just four years after opening the theater.
“Both Ragtag and True/False provide an inclusive environment for those that make, appreciate or are curious about film,” True/False press liaison Jessica Anania says. “(The festival) showcases the best of Columbia and gives students and community members the opportunity to immerse themselves in documentaries, art, and music.”
In addition to its pivotal role during the film fest, Ragtag often re-screens the films shown at the festival throughout the year. “That enables people who might have missed a film during the fest to see it later,” Anania says.
From the films it brings to Columbia moviegoers to its role in one of the nation’s best film fests, the theater stands as the heart and soul of CoMo’s quirky culture.