If you've never been to True/False Film Festival, it can be a little overwhelming to dive right into Columbia's biggest weekend of the spring. In the 16 years since the first fest, something of a special T/F vocabulary has developed that seems required to understand any of what goes on during festival weekend. If you don't know what a Q Queen does or why people are talking about concerts at a film festival, we have you covered.
Do I have to buy a pass to see any films?
Not if you don't want to. There are seven kinds of passes ranging in price from fewer than $50 to nearly $1,000. You can splurge on a Silver Circle pass to get ticketless walk-up privileges at the "Big Three" venues – The Missouri Theater, The Blue Note, and Jesse Hall. You could opt for a less pricey Simple Pass, which allows you to get tickets for any film at the Box Office or Q for any film without a ticket. For even less, you could get a Stay Up Late Pass, which lets you into all festival concerts and free Q admission for any film after 9 p.m., or a Sunday Spree Pass, which allows you to pick up tickets for Sunday films at the Box Office starting Saturday morning or free Q admission for any Sunday films.
If there are only a few movies you want to see or you're attending on a tight budget, you can get individual tickets at the Box Office until 30 minutes before showtime. Tickets to any single movie (excluding the Closing Night Film) are $12 at the Box Office. If you're a student and you bring your ID, you can get your ticket for $10.
If a film "goes NRT," meaning all of the reserve tickets have been sold either to pass holders or to people at the Box Office, you still have a shot at getting in through the Q.
What's a Q? Who are the Q queens?
One hour before each film's time, the fabulously-dressed Q Queens hand out Q numbers to people waiting outside the screening venue. If there's a particularly popular film you're itching to see, you might want to join the Q more than an hour before. You still won't get a card until one hour before showtime, but you'll have a better spot in line.
Once the venue's Q Queen has given you your card, you don't have to lurk outside the theater any longer. You're free to roam until 15 minutes remain until your movie. Then, head back to the venue, line up based on your number, and a person called the Venue Captain will let people in until they can't anymore.
It's important to note that you only pay for a ticket if you are allowed in; However, tickets from the Q cost more than those at the Box Office – you'll pay $14 if your Q number is called. If the Venue Captain stops letting folks in before your number is called, you haven't lost any money. You're not guaranteed a seat with the Q system, but if you give it a try at a few different films, True/False swears you'll get to see at least one of them.
What's all this about concerts and art installations?
True/False isn't just about documentaries. When the films come to town, so do visual art and music.
This year, all of the art installations are focused on the theme "Foresight." Works of art will be displayed across town, from outdoors in Alley A to inside the lobbies of various screening venues. You'll see everything from giant eyeballs to huge metal trees in this year's works.
"Sometimes (the theme) just kind of feels right," fest director Camellia Cosgray says. "This year, we were specifically thinking about 2020, and we started talking about vision and 'hindsight is 2020.' Foresight made more sense and resonated more with us."
Cosgray is most looking forward to seeing "Back and Song," a 20-minute, four-channel video display by Elissa Blount-Moorhead and Bradford Young.
"It's unique to this year," Cosgray says of the project. "It has to do with the healthcare industry and healthcare in general and how that has affected the black experience."
"Back and Song" is showing at 28 N 9th Street.
As for music, True/False is underscored by both organized concerts around Columbia and buskers taking to the streets or performing before screenings. More than 40 artists are slated to play around the festival this year. If you're a night owl, you can attend one of a number of afterparties, such as the one at Rose Music Hall on Saturday that will feature Doomsquad, Chris Cohen, and Square Peg Round Hole. If you prefer to listen during the day, events such as Hitt Rexx Sessions with Ada Lea and Karen Meat might be more your speed. Some performances are free, while others will cost you, so be sure to check before you go. You can also wander the fest and listen to the buskers that will play all weekend long.
"I think (music and art) makes it more of a celebratory atmosphere," Cosgray says. "I think that it provides opportunities for people to experience the fest in different ways."
What about all these other events? What's a March March? What's Neither/Nor?
With so many events going on throughout the weekend, you can experience some of the fest without ever seeing a film. There are tons of T/F events that aren't screenings or afterparties. There are too many fringe events to list, but we'll hit some of the highlights.
March March: This loud, colorful, crazy parade kicks off festival weekend every year. Anyone can attend for free, and True/False encourages attendees to "dress colorfully, to construct and carry fun props, to make noise, and to push the level of imagination." The only rules: no political floats and no fire. The parade starts at the Boone County Court House at 5:15 p.m. on Friday, dances down 9th Street and wraps up at the Sculpture Yard outside the Missouri Theatre.
Neither/Nor: A free series of films that highlights the work of specific filmmakers. This year, the Neither/Nor films are showcasing Missouri documentary filmmakers Lisa Steele, Mike Henderson, Christopher Harris and Tom Palazzolo. "It's filmmakers who were born or grew up in Missouri, but then moved on to other places," Cosgray says. "Many of them have not spent much time back in Missouri since they left."
All films will be shown at Ragtag Cinema, and tickets can be claimed starting at noon on March 4.
Campfire Stories: A simulated campfire hangout at which six filmmakers "spin yarns." Each one of them tells a story about something interesting that happened during the filmmaking process while you listen and enjoy whiskey and s'mores. You need a ticket, or you can Q before the "bonfire" on Friday at 9:30 p.m. at Studio 4.
Gimme Truth!: A game show, but make it True/False. This game, hosted by comedian Brian Babylon, involves amateur filmmakers showing two-minute films to experienced directors, who must then guess if the documentary is real or fake. You'll need a reserve ticket or a spot in the Q to get into the event on Saturday at 10:15 p.m. at The Blue Note.
You can find a full list of all the extra events on the True/False website.