Since the True/False Film Fest started in 2003, it seems like almost every film fan in Columbia has looked forward to the city's annual transformation during the beginning of March.
In the past, visitors have come from just down the road and far outside the state to watch the documentaries and participate in the events hosted over the four-day period. This year, with reinforced efforts toward inclusiveness and accessibility, participation can extend to many more guests with disabilities than in previous years.
“We want the fest to be accessible to anybody and everybody,” says True/False operations manager Carly Love.
This year in particular will boast the fest’s most accessible film screening ever, Love says, with Crip Camp, a documentary about a group of teens who met at a summer camp for people with disabilities and went on on to champion disability rights. It is one of the first films at the festival to offer captions and audio description, which accommodate viewers with hearing loss or visual impairment.
On Saturday, March 7, the documentary will be shown at The Globe with open captions, open audio description and American Sign Language interpretation during the introduction and Q&A portions of the screening, as well as seating that can be made fully wheelchair accessible.
“Our goal is that, if there are individuals who need multiple accessible seats, they can view the film together rather than being spread out across an auditorium,” Love says.
Here are some of the other ways True/False is keeping this year’s fest inclusive for the disability community:
For the past several years, True/False has worked with a team of interpreters to offer translations of selected screening introductions and Q&A sessions into ASL. This year, 20 screenings of 14 different films will include introductions and Q&As that will be interpreted in ASL, including screenings of Crip Camp and this year’s True Life Fund film, Welcome to Chechnya.
The age of some of the buildings in downtown Columbia means not everywhere is entirely accessible for wheelchair-users or people with mobility issues, but Love says True/False has planned ahead to ensure all film venues and public event spaces are wheelchair accessible or can be temporarily modified for the duration of the fest. Entrances with ramps or lifts can sometimes be tough to find around the "Q" outside of a venue, so when in doubt, ask a Venue Captain at your screening location or a Queen for assistance.
Audio descriptions and captioning
This year’s fest will include films that offer both captioning and audio descriptions. Many of the documentaries shown each year are foreign films, but don’t confuse subtitles for closed captions. The largest difference between the two, Love says, are the traditional text descriptions of other audio in the film available with captioning, specifically meant to aid Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals. Audio description, on the other hand, is a spoken narrative of what’s happening on screen that can be used by people with visual impairments.
Both audio description and open and closed captions can be relatively uncommon among early-stage indie films like those often shown at True/False. This year, seven screenings of three different films will offer audio description and closed captions on separate devices for those guests who need them — just ask a Venue Captain or Queen before the start of the show. The Globe's screening of Crip Camp will offer open captions and open audio description, meaning both accommodations will play on-screen without the need for an additional device.
A complete list of films with audio description, closed captions and/or ASL interpretation can be found here.
Trained service animals are welcome inside True/False venues, Love says, but best to leave any emotional-support animals at home for any screenings. No need to fret — there are also plenty of outdoor activities at the festival where your furry friend can tag along.
Other accommodation services
Other questions or concerns about specific accommodations you might need over the course of the festival? Just ask. You can contact Love at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 573-442-8783.