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February 27, 2014 | 12:00 a.m. CST
Eleven years. More than 43,000 tickets sold in 2013 (10 times the number of first-year sales). At least $1 million in economic impact. 10,800 Twitter followers. In 2014, 43 documentaries.The numbers show that David Wilson and Paul Sturtz’s True/False Film Fest is a growing force. But the figures don’t capture the intangible energy that infiltrates the city during the annual celebration of nonfiction film. Vox calls it the True/False state of mind.
Inherent in the fest’s name, reconstructing reality through film brings truth to light but inevitably involves interpretation. True/False embraces this as a strength, not a weakness. As audience members, we trust what we see without knowing exactly how long the director waited for a shot. We won’t mind the mystery or the possibility we’re being fooled. It’s not objectivity we crave, but understanding. In the words of Toni Morrison, artists are “the truest of historians.”
The True/False state of mind also is one of modesty. This week in Filmmaker Magazine, Robert Greene (who’s premiering his doc, Actress, at the fest) talks about how the co-conspirators don’t announce which films are launching in Columbia. This appeals to filmmakers uninterested in the competition of larger fests. The humble reputation sets up True/False as an authentic platform for world premieres, Greene writes, with a focus on celebration instead of rivalry.
The event spans a long weekend but adds another dimension to the city all year. It’s an urban vibe in a town of 100,000. A lifeblood to our city’s culture, it’s a mutual desire of the filmmakers and the filmgoers to explore the human spirit that transcends generations.
For these reasons, Vox dedicated an entire issue to True/False and the people who make it possible.