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The True/False Film Fest

The final credits have rolled on the 2016 edition of the True/False Film Fest, the documentary film festival that took place in Columbia, Missouri March 3-6. The festival presented about 50 films that were screened multiple times, and also presented programs where a collection of short films were shown at the same screening. And as always, the fun didn't end at the cinema door.

At the Forrest Theater

For lovers of documentary films, True/False has earned a reputation for being one of the best festivals in the country. Many films make their American or even worldwide debut at True/False, with one such film premiering in the U.S. at True/False this year being "Another Country," an Australian film directed by Molly Reynolds, who was on hand to participate in a Q&A session after the screening. The film is about Ramingining, an Aboriginal village in the northern part of Australia where there is no work and no hope for a future for the inhabitants who've had their native culture destroyed and replaced by a government welfare system. The movie is narrated by David Gulpilil, an actor who was in "Crocodile Dundee" and also, as he points out in the narration, in prison multiple times. The film has moments of humor but mostly it evokes a sadness for these people who have nothing to look forward to except endless bleak and boring, non-productive days.

Director Molly Reynolds

Similar situations with directors, producers, writers and the like could be found at most screenings, even for some of the shorts, like with director Aldemar Matias appearing to speak briefly before and after the screening of his film "El Enimigo." About the attempted eradication of Dengue Fever-carrying mosquitoes in Cuba, "El Enimigo" shows how the effort is hampered not only by less than cooperative residents but also by endless in-fighting between members of the health inspection squad, many of whom lose their temper over botched paperwork and perceived insubordination. Matias ends the film fittingly, with a scene showing a fumigation truck blasting out mosquito-killing chemicals, eventually leaving the city street in such a cloud that nothing is visible.

Music mingles freely with cinema during True/False and there is always a musical performance in the screening venue before the film rolls. Some of the players appearing this year included the David Wax Museum, the big brass band Gora Gora Orkestar, Molly Healey, Mal Devisa, Brooklyn's Hearing Things and Columbia's very own the Onions. Long time True/False attendees know that French theatrical band Les Trois Coups are a must-see; the zany Frenchmen played multiple shows this year including one at the tiny Landmark Bank courtyard where the action virtually spilled out onto the sidewalk. Parties and special events like the "Reality Bites" Missouri food tasting affair also featured musical showcases, and the big show this year was a concert featuring the Seratones and Lee Fields & the Expressions that took place on opening night at Columbia's prime music venue the Blue Note.

Les Trois Coups

Reality Bites

The Blue Note was also dubbed "The Vimeo Theater" during True/False and many documentaries were screened there. One of the most fun events at the Blue Note was the Johnny St. John-hosted "Gimme Truth!," the annual "game show" where celebrity judges (film directors) try to ascertain whether two-minute films about subjects like twin girls named Potato and Potato (pronounced Po-tah-to) are true or false. "Potato Potato" proved to be false, but surprisingly a film about an art handler who licks paintings, "The Art Handler," was true. And as always, comedian St. John opened the show with a set of hilarious and timely comedy.

Johnny St. John

The fun of True/False maybe is best summed-up by the "March March," a parade through about five blocks of downtown Columbia where anyone can join in, and that ends in a giant block party. Featuring marchers young and old, mostly dressed in purposely goofy costumes, the event overflows with joy and nicely represents how the residents of Columbia feel about the annual film fest, and many are already looking forward to next year.

The March March

Information on the 2017 True/False Film Fest will be posted at

For information on planning a visit to Columbia during True/False or any time of year, go to

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