It takes 900 volunteers in roles such as audio tech and Queen to power True/False. Meet Antoine Matondo. He’s on the Canary Screening Committee this year, and has worked with volunteer registration and the hospitality team in the past. Matondo was born in Sofia, Bulgaria, and raised in the Republic of Congo. He speaks French, Bulgarian and English, and he has been a French translator for the festival for the past five years. But he’s not stopping there: He says his goal is to learn as much as possible about how True/False is run, and what better way is there to learn than diving into a multitude of roles?
What does the Canary Screening Committee do, and how does your background help you in this role?
As Canaries, we are assigned a number of documentaries to watch and give our opinions clearly and concisely. We help to go through the 1,200 movies that the festival gets. Some volunteers have experience — the veterans — some don’t. I do, but only because I’ve done it for a few years. Speaking to my background, I always enjoyed movies. When I was younger, my dream was to be an actor. Life didn’t go that way, and then I started teaching French literature.
What motivates you to watch that many movies?
To me, the documentary is a way to see the world if you can’t travel. It opens horizons. It is not time consuming; let me find the time! Nevertheless, 95% of movies don’t match the True/False type of documentaries, don’t push the envelope and don’t change the viewer’s way of seeing. Some are too journalistic, and there’s no art or intrigue.
What are the other True/False volunteer roles that you have held?
My first experience volunteering was helping volunteers register. My second experience was as part of the hospitality team. My job consisted, among other things, of getting guests’ packets ready and knowing where they were staying. Then, during the fest, I welcomed guests. In that capacity, I was able to interact with our distinguished guests and help them navigate the fest. Being the first faces our guests see, we knew to provide a great first experience. In addition to those two experiences, I was able to do some interpreting for some of our guests who were not comfortable with English.
How do you think your experience as a translator lends to your role on the screening committee?
It opens my world as far as I don’t have to watch movies that are only in English. I can watch movies that are in French, in Bulgarian or in English. I am not afraid of reading subtitles, as many people are.
What is one documentary you’ve seen at True/False that you’d recommend to others?
La Tropical. It’s about a bar in Haiti. I saw it my first year of the festival. The Devil Came on Horseback is another one. Honestly, this question is like asking what my favorite book is. I can’t tell you. It’s either what I’m reading in the moment, or they all are because it’s not just about the book itself; it’s what I’m learning out of it.