True/False Festing

Notebook? Check. Pen? Check. Combat boots? Check. Ironic sweater/skirt combination? Check.

Disguised as a hipster, I set out Saturday morning armed and ready to cover the True/False festival. My assignment: the “Speculative Stroll,” which departed from the True/False box office at 11:45 a.m.

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Having done my research, I now knew what to expect. Timothy “Speed” Levitch was to lead the tour. He’s from New York, so he had to be excellent. His touring sidekick, Gabe Williams, was a Columbia native and, as Levitch put it, a landmark with a heartbeat.

I’d never been to the True/False box office and was enchanted the minute I stepped inside. Cotton ball clouds hung from the ceiling, giant bird’s nests adorned with twinkle lights sat in two corners of the room. The art on the walls consisted of True/False posters from past years. I was in love.

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Inside the True/False box office at Hitt and Broadway. Photo by me.

Around 11:30 a cluster of people formed in the front of the office… so many beards. So many coats, hats and scarves. So much plaid, so much quirk. Really, I love the True/False-ians. They are my people.

The tour itself was delightful; for a full account, read my blog post here. I even snapped some iPhone pictures (of dubious quality…) that ended up in the post itself, so that’s pretty neat.

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“Speed” Levitch (furry hat, right) and Gabe Williams (sunglasses, left) entertain the crowd in Alley A during Saturday morning’s “Speculative Stroll.” Photo by me.

Overall, live coverage was a much less stressful experience than I was expecting. The casual, laid back, “anything goes” attitudes of the editors on duty contributed to my (unusual) sense of calm. Cue large sigh of relief.

Today marks the 10th annual True/False Film Festival’s last hurrah. In the Vox office I’m picturing champagne corks popping, backs being patted, cheers and hollering – a fitting end to a long weekend of coverage.

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True/False Festing

Crunch time in Columbia: True/False Film Festival

February 28, 2013: It has begun.

The 10th annual True/False Film Festival is upon us… upon Columbia, Missouri, and, more importantly, upon Vox.

A few years back, Vox won exclusive True/False coverage rights. Since then, the magazine has made it its duty to provide the best and most thorough coverage of the festival. T/F issues are long, labor-intensive and excruciatingly detailed.

This year I had a hand in that detail. The 2013 True/False issue, which came out today, includes my story on Dan Lindsay, Academy Award winning director. Basically he brought his film, Undefeated, to True/False last year, along with his little gold statue… not a big deal. It was amazing to talk to him about filmmaking, the Oscars and his current projects.

During the festival itself (a.k.a. during this entire weekend), the entire Vox staff is responsible for covering every. single. aspect. of True/False.

For my humble reporter self, that means live event coverage. On Saturday morning at 11:45 a.m. I will be at the True/False box office downtown, ready to set off on a “Speculative Stroll.” What is a speculative stroll? Who knows. How will I cover it? Remains to be seen. (Needless to say I have some pre-reporting to do.)

Regardless, I can’t wait to participate in such a huge Columbia happening. True/False is something unique to our city that draws thousands of interesting people together for one movie-filled weekend. Let the films begin!

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Crunch time in Columbia: True/False Film Festival

Documenting documentaries: A learning curve

I am now an expert on all things documentary… Just in time for True/False Film Festival. How convenient.

Exactly two stories are in the works, both to do with documentary film. One previews Byron Hurt’s Soul Food Junkies, which screens at Mizzou on the 28th. You should go see it. It’s free.

The other is (potentially) about Dan Lindsay, an Oscar-winning documentarian. I may or may not be having some small issues contacting him at the moment, but that’s beside the point.

Both stories combined have given me a new appreciation for the finesse required of documentary filmmakers.

David Wilson, a self-professed “Co-conspirator” in regards to True/False (he founded the festival ten years ago) put it better than I ever could.

“With documentary you have to figure out what the story is as you go,” he told me, his voice crackling through my speaker phone. “In real life stories never come in neat packages, so the art of documentary filmmaking is being able to be in a moment but thinking outside of that moment about what it means and how it forms into a narrative.” Brilliant.

All this new knowledge crammed into my skull recalls a line from last Tuesday’s reporting lecture by Jacqui Banaszynski : “A  journalist’s job isn’t to know stuff. It’s to find stuff out.”

Aside from being one of the most quotable lecture moments of Spring 2013, this also happens to be true.

Two weeks ago I knew next to nothing about documentary film. Now I can hold my own in festivals and features alike. Hopefully.

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If you live in Columbia and you haven’t experienced the magic that is the True/False Film Festival… you really should. (Image in Vox Magazine’s blog post announcing the 2013 True/False films.)
Documenting documentaries: A learning curve