Tonight marks the start of the True/False film festival in Columbia, Missouri, a college town located off the I-70 corridor almost exactly equidistant from Kansas City and St. Louis.
The town is home of University of Missouri (lovingly referred to as Mizzou by sports fans and alums), renowned for one of the World's great Journalism Schools.
Now in its 8th year, T/F quickly emerged as favorite destination on the festival circuit. The event's success is based on a number of factors—some based on their locale, and others in spite of it.
Their official history, which outlines the evolution of the event, showing how organizers took advantage of existing spaces to form an amazing network of venues—all within easy walking distance of each other. "These included our first home at the movie theater turned music venue The Blue Note, our storefront café and microcinema the Ragtag Cinema, and the 1,200 seat Missouri Theatre, a movie palace built in 1928 that hadn't had films projected in almost 15 years."
Their innovative programming strategy, a choice to show only documentaries was "derived from our love of documentaries and our town's heritage of great journalism."
Then, they made the key decision to require filmmakers to attend the festival with their films. Filmmakers in attendance were overwhelmed by the welcome feeling of the festival, and the remarkable amount of community support the event garnered.
In their own words: "We're immensely proud of how much of a community effort T/F remains — whether it's downtown restaurants feeding our wandering musicians, high school governments raising money for the True Life Fund, or 500+ mid-Missourians showing up to volunteer."
Even though my brother lives in Columbia Missouri, and I had been hearing amazing things about T/F since its inception in 2003, I wasn't able to attend the festival in person until last year.
What I witnessed in person confirmed the hype.
Getting turned away from a sold out show at 9 AM on a Saturday morning for a screening in the 1,200 seat Missouri Theatre is a sobering revelation.
Attendance for the three day festival topped 23,000. Compare this with Atlanta's most top film fest, the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, which drew 26,000 over the course of three weeks! Consider that Columbia's total population is 108,500 as of the 2010 Census, compared to metro Atlanta's 5,475,213 and you get a sense of how much the community supports this event.
Some shots below from last year's event.
I am sad that I am not able to attend T/F this year, for a variety of reasons. Not only I would have loved to visit my brother and his wife, I also would have loved to get another taste of a community that embraces and supports the arts. Where audiences flock to try something new, innovative, interesting and fun.
And where a tiny grass roots film festival kicks the snot out of just about every other event on the scene.
It sounds like Deal is really uncomfortable about this since he's obviously trying to absolve…
They can receive emergency care for pneumonia, perhaps. But (a) They lost the opportunity to…
i'm sorry, i just can't a grown man seriously with a nickname like "bubba".
I wonder if they also payed Bubba McDonald for a lap dance and a 'happy…
Quick! Somebody get the Satanic Temple on the line: