Leola Davis poses for a photograph before the beginning of the True/False film festival Jubilee Gala at the Missouri Theatre Thursday evening, March 3, 2011. Davis, a True/False volunteer, worked as the music liaison for the band David Wax Museum, who played at the gala Thursday night. Photo by Rachel Coward

Although True/False Film Festival focuses on the true-to-life depictions of documentary film, the Jubilee Gala was all about fantasy, mystique and hidden identities.

Between 700 and 900 people filled the regal scarlet and gold lobby of the Missouri Theatre dressed in elaborate costumes and glittery masks. The inaugural gala marked the first time an event was held on a Thursday, says special events coordinator Liz Deken. “It’s giving something more for people to get excited about,” Deken says. “This is something a little fancier where you can put on your duds, drink, schmooze and rub elbows.”

Six local bartenders were on hand to mix up creative concoctions, such as cucumber and peppercorn gin and tonics and apple cinnamon martinis. High school students with the Columbia Career Center weaved through narrow and crowded hallways supplying guests with platters of hors d’ouevres, while Boston-based band David Wax Museum filled the lobby with folksy tunes while performing on the mezzanine. Volunteer Crystal Midkiff was a liaison with the band, and says she is excited for the rest of the festival. “It’s pretty amazing considering it’s the first night,” Midkiff says. “Everyone is looking exceptionally magical and beautiful.”

From aquamarine ball gowns to Max from Where the Wild Things Are, creativity in the costume department was not in short supply. Sabrina Braden, owner of Maude Vintage, was dressed in a sparkling red ball gown, a white and gray brocade jacket and a dainty cream-colored felt top hat with black feathers jutting out the top. Braden is also the venue design coordinator for the festival, and says she was happy to get out of her work clothes in which she had been living.

Some guests veered away from majestic apparel and went for humor. Melody Kroll came dressed as a green dinosaur after a friend said she would don a bear suit if she did. The joke was on Kroll when her friend didn’t fulfill her part of the bargain. Jenny Dills and her friend Patrick Hanson also took a whimsical approach by wearing giant Teletubbies heads. “We just had these lying around the house and we never get to wear them, but we found a reason to wear them tonight,” Dills says. “I’m super excited; this is my favorite weekend of the year.”

Betty Wilson, who has lived in Columbia for over 40 years, showed up in a homemade feather mask. She says before Ragtag and True/False, events like this were few and far between. “It’s been enriching to have things like this,” Wilson says. “True/False resonates with you all-year long. I think it’s a treat for us to have this here.”

-Rachel Krause

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