Post written by Ian Servantes.
Short films, jokes and tequila. Those were the key ingredients in making Gimme Truth! one of True/False’s standout events and a fan favorite.
The documentary game show screened 10 two-minute short films, leaving it to the audience and three judges to determine whether the story was true or false. After each short, the judges would ask the director(s) a question — sometimes relevant, but often not — to guide their decision. That is, of course, when they weren’t requesting more (and more) shots and coercing directors and host Johnny St. John to join their on-stage debauchery.
Johnny St. John, now in his sixth year of hosting Gimme Truth!, held together the appropriately scatterbrained event with his sometime crass jokes and high-pitched voice, which often elevated to a scream.
“He’s got a tremendous sense of humor,” Blue Note owner Richard King says. “I like the fact that he’s downing shots up there while he’s doing his show. There are not many people who can do that.”
The irreverent panel was made up of three members of the film industry: Bill Ross, half of the documentary directing duo The Ross Brothers; Heidi Ewing, last year’s winner and director of Jesus Camp and Boys of Baraka; and Sergio Oksman, a Brazilian director of short films. Ross and Ewing finished tied with 600 points and Oksman ended with 400.
“My first time [at True/False] was last year, and I came to this event and it was the highlight of the festival for me,” Ross says. “I very honestly wanted to do this at some point in my life. It’s a hilarious event that you don’t find at any other film festival.”
Encounters, directed by 13-year-old Aubrielle Maginness, was chosen as the best short of the night. A true story, it documents the paranormal encounter of a group of women and one baby, ghost hunter and all.
Second place was awarded to LeeAnne Lowry and Kirsten Izzett for Dem Bones, a story about a female basketball player whose on-court injury forces her to have her first rib removed. A piece of said rib becomes a strange token, taken with her at all times. The audience exploded in surprise after the directors revealed it to be true.
Betsy Gant took third for Not Unusual, a fictitious account of a cab driver who idolizes Tom Jones and even views him as a surrogate father figure. The star worship dates back to the main character’s childhood, when he writes to Jones after finding out they both have tuberculosis.
Catherine Meagher, a first-time Gimme Truth! attendee, thinks the flowing of alcohol under the spotlights might have something to do with Encounters taking top prize. “It makes perfect sense with True/False,” she says.
Another highlight was the outrageously real A Conversation. It tells the story of a former liberal-atheist who trips shrooms and has a life-changing conversion to neo-conservatism and Catholicism, only after covering his face in chocolate.
The night’s most hilarious short wasn’t actually part of the competition, but rather an intermission while the judges conferred to choose a winner. Catnip: Egress to Oblivion is a Reefer Madness-esque piece on the kitty drug that treats it like shrooms or LSD and details good and bad trips. Clips of cats tweaking out overlaid with psychedelic images rolled as the narrator gave his mock PSA.
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