12th Annual

True/False Film Fest

March 05, 2015 to March 08, 2015

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5 S. Ninth Street #205
Columbia MO 65201
Phone: 573-442-8783
Fax: (573) 499-4884

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The True/False Film Fest is open to all works of non-fiction cinema. We also encourage chimeric works that straddle the line between non-fiction and fiction.
Documentary Short
The True/False Film Fest is open to all works of non-fiction cinema. We also encourage chimeric works that straddle the line between non-fiction and fiction.


The twelfth annual True/False Film Fest (March 5 - 8, 2014) honors outstanding work in the blossoming field of nonfiction cinema. True/False is a celebration of distinct filmmaking voices from all over the world and an opportunity to discuss and appreciate the ways in which films are constructed.

The fest is a nonfiction utopia, alive with enthusiasm for cinema, as festgoers pack screenings and even take part in a documentary parade. We strive for 100% filmmaker attendance, so for directors of feature-length films, all travel expenses are paid, and for directors of short films, all expenses except airfare are paid. Additionally, we provide a small stipend to visiting feature directors with films at the festival. At True/False, filmmakers and their films are offered the attention and consideration they deserve.

Focusing on collegiality and the connections between diverse filmmakers rather than on awards and honorifics, True/False fosters non-competitive camaraderie and an unhurried opportunity to view and discuss great films. Filmmakers interact with audiences in a way only possible in the welcoming environs of Columbia, Missouri, USA, a small Midwestern city filled with friendly and intelligent people and distinguished by the country’s oldest journalism school.

True/False's programming values formal inventiveness and craftsmanship; it gives no extra points to "important" messages or stories. In addition to playing some of the year's best non-fiction cinema, True/False also explores chimeric films that straddle the line between fiction and non-fiction. True/False does not screen didactic work nor does it play documentaries best suited for the small screen.


In January of 1998, the future founders of True/False started the Ragtag Film Society, which showed new independent films in a nightclub called The Blue Note, before moving to its own home two years later. The Ragtag Cinema, now a two-screen non-profit cinema, has brought countless fine films to Columbia since then, and has worked to install a 35mm projector in the 1,200-seat Missouri Theater, which hadn’t shown films in over a decade. The Missouri Theater would go on to play host to Mid-Missouri premiers of such films as "Bowling for Columbine" and "Winged Migration," "March of the Penguins" and "An Inconvenient Truth."

Stemming from a love of documentaries and Columbia’s heritage of great journalism, the first True/False Film Fest took place in February 2004. In our first year we hosted a remarkable group of international filmmakers, including director Kevin Macdonald, who presented "Touching the Void" to a sold-out crowd of 1,200 people. Bruce Sinofsky was given our first annual True Vision Award for his work with Joe Berlinger on films such as "Brother's Keeper" and "Metallica: Some Kind of Monster." Other stand-out filmmakers included Mark Achbar with "The Corporation," Sarah Price with "The Yes Men," and editor Karen Schmeer with "The Fog of War."

Attendance continued to grow, going from 6,500 in 2005 to 14,500 in 2007, and on to 18,000 just one year later. Great filmmakers have come from around the globe, including Adam Curtis (The Power of Nightmares, It Felt Like a Kiss), Victor Kossakovsky (Vivan Las Antipodas, Demonstration), Lixin Fan (Last Train Home), Nikolaus Geyrhalter (Abendland), Laura Poitras (The Oath), Steve James (The Interrupters), James Marsh (Man on Wire, Project Nim), Huang Weikai (Disorder), Clio Barnard (The Arbor), Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (Detropia), Oliver Laxe (You Are All Captains), Pacho Velez (Manakamana), Henry Alex Rubin, Dana Alan Shapiro and Jeff Mandel (Murderball), Kirby Dick (This Film is Not Yet Rated), Jeff Feuerzeig (The Devil and Daniel Johnston), Robert Greene (Actress, Fake It So Real, Kati With an I), Marshall Curry (Street Fight), David Sington (In the Shadow of the Moon), Brett Morgen (Nimrod Nation), Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side) and more than 60 others each year.

In 2007, we inaugurated two projects in conjunction with visiting directors. The SWAMI program matches industry professionals with a handful of first-time directors who are mentored in festival strategy, distribution, and marketing. Past SWAMI mentors have included directors Fenton Bailey (The Eyes of Tammy Fae) and Rachel Grady (Detropia), independent film guru John Pierson, and distributors Tom Quinn (RADiUS), Ryan Krivoshey (Cinema Guild) and Debbie Zimmerman (Women Make Movies). Past graduates of the SWAMI program include Jason Tippet & Elizabeth Mims (Only the Young), Bassam Tariq & Omar Mullick (These Birds Walk), Amanda Rose Wilder (Approaching the Elephant), Anna Broinowski (Forbidden Lie$) and Michael Palmieri & Donal Mosher (October Country).

Our other project launched in 2007, The True Life Fund, celebrates documentary's ability to create change by raising money for real-life subjects of new non-fiction. In its inaugural year, the True Life Fund raised more than $8,500 for the subjects of a documentary about an African orphanage; in 2009, $10,000 was raised for underground journalists working in Burma, as seen in the film “Burma VJ”; in 2010 the Cambodian filmmaker Thet Sambath was awarded the same amount, for his decade-long project of interviewing living members of the Khmer Rouge, as seen in the film "Enemies of the People." 2011's True Life Fund raised over $15,000 for Chicago Ceasefire's Ameena Matthews, Cobe Williams and Eddie Bocanega, subjects of Steve James' "The Interrupters," and our 2012 recipients, the subjects of Lee Hirsch's "Bully," received a shared total of $30,000. In 2013, we set a new record for the True Life Fund, raising $36,760 for RISC (Reporters Instructed in Saving Colleagues) and the Milton Margai School for Blind, two organizations featured in Which Way is the Front Line From Here?: The Life and Times of Tim Hetherington.

As the Fest continues to grow, so too does community involvement and enthusiasm. There is something about Columbia, Missouri that fosters intelligent and engaged support, and as a result the Fest remains as intimate as ever. The SWAMI program and the True Life Fund continue to aid filmmaking and humanitarian causes better than ever; new venues and extra screenings are added each year, and things show no sign of slowing down. In 2014, the festival sold 42,500 tickets.

In 2013, Sight & Sound magazine said True/False was "something of a cinematic miracle of the American Midwest," and Film Comment called it "an advocate and a beacon for good filmmaking." In 2014, True/False introduced the Pay the Artist! initiative (http://truefalse.org/sponsor/pay-the-artist), which provides a stipend to all feature filmmakers with films in True/False.


Chris Boeckmann (Associate Programmer, Submissions Director); David Wilson (Programmer/Admin.)


Rules of entry:

Send to:

True/False Film Fest
5 S. Ninth #205,
Columbia, Mo. 65201

- The True/False Film Fest is open to all works of non-fiction cinema. We also encourage chimeric works that straddle the line between non-fiction and fiction.

- Films and videos are submitted complete with English commentary and/or English dialogue or in the original version with English subtitles.

- The submission will not be returned to the entrants unless a stamped, self-addressed envelope is included for return.

After official selection for the True/False program:

- The festival has the right to use the publicity material (press books, posters, stills etc.) to promote the festival.

- All shipping costs and insurance to the festival office are the festival's responsibility. Films must be accompanied by return instructions.

- Upon gaining possession of the films or videos, the festival will only then accept limited responsibility for the films or videos, extending to the time that the festival organization ships the film or video back to the sender. The definition of this limited responsibility only includes a refund of laboratory expenses for making a new print of the roll or rolls of film damaged, or in case of a video, duplication of the videotape. This refund will be calculated according to the current US laboratory prices. It does not extend to negatives, positives or any other type of film component.


Filmmakers give permission to festival to use press kits for marketing purposes, and a 60-second or less clip from film in highlight reel for box office.