True/False Film Fest kicks off in Columbia

Movie-goers+line+up+outside+the+True%2FFalse+box+office+just+hours+after+it+opened+Feb.+28.+The+documentary+film+festival+will+run+through+the+weekend.+Photo+by+Maria+Kalaitzandonakes

Movie-goers line up outside the True/False box office just hours after it opened Feb. 28. The documentary film festival will run through the weekend. Photo by Maria Kalaitzandonakes

Ashleigh Atasoy

Movie-goers line up outside the True/False box office just hours after it opened Feb. 28. The documentary film festival will run through the weekend. Photo by Maria Kalaitzandonakes
Movie-goers line up outside the True/False box office just hours after it opened Feb. 28. The documentary film festival will run through the weekend. Photo by Maria Kalaitzandonakes

The annual True/False Film Festival opened  Feb. 28 in downtown Columbia. According to its website, True/False  “highlights innovative work with a cinematic scope, creative takes on contemporary currents, and most of all work that provokes dialogue about its subject and the documentary form itself,” strictly through the lenses of documentaries. Celebrating its 10 year anniversary, the event hoped to sell over 40,000 tickets, nearly 4,000 more than last year.
“I think the first year of the fest there were about 3,000 tickets and last year there were over 36,000 tickets that were distributed through the course of our four days,” Tracy Lane, editor in chief of the True/False program said. “This year we’ve anticipated to break into the 40 thousand range this year. So obviously with that, there’s a great amount of increased visits from outside of our community into our community.”
In addition to increased ticket sale projections, True/False will continue its tradition of engaging the arts. With line-ups featuring bands including Cloud Dog, Rip Rap and Wooden Indian Burial Ground, and including art galleries and local artists, many believe that the festival has impacted more than just ‘the District.’
“I think True/False has impacted Columbia by making it a little bit more of a like … I want to say less consumeristic almost,” Senior Aiden Cornelison said. “It’s brought out the part in people that want to recycle and wants to be informed on global issues … when you watch the short films it makes you broaden your understanding of the world.”
On a larger scale, True/False arguably changed the documentary industry. Featured on sites like  Indiewire.com, and The Huffington Post, it  hasbeen gaining popularity since its conception in 2003. This year, it hopes to persist building its national and international fanbase.
“We are creating a really special event and unique event and there’s really nothing quite like it in the United States,” Lane said. “We are the best and biggest documentary film festival in the United States and one of the biggest in the world as well. We’ve created a nice little pocket of culture as well that’s very accessible.”
By using this publicity to gain ground in the film industry, True/False won film awards including the Riverfront Times best film festival in 2004. Channeling successes back into the festival, True/False used 2012 ticket sales and donations to support film subjects like the families featured in the documentary, “Bully.” Donating $30,000 to the families, the festival helps others, but also works towards raising awareness of the controversial issues highlighted in the films.
Sophomore Jilly Dos Santos volunteered at the event this year and believes the festival stands out in another way.
“I think it’s because to be a True/False film, you don’t have to have a $30 million budget,” Dos Santos said. “You just have to have a camera and a story and you can make it something great. And I think that’s kind of what it’s about.”
Ultimately, True/False aims to open up Columbia to diverse perspectives. By showcasing up to 20 films, the festival hopes to set a new standard not only for the film industry, but also for itself.
“I think that each year we try to raise the bar. Our goal really was just as it has been every year. Each year we try to provide quality films and a quality weekend for anyone who comes to our fest, and we always tried to improve upon that every year.” Lane said. “So this year is not any different than any other year in that we’ve strived to just improve what we do every time.”

By Ashleigh Atasoy
To check out ongoing reports of this weekend along with reviews of films, click here.
Are you planning on attending the festival? What do you think about documentaries in general?