I saw my first True/False documentary in 2012. I was in ninth grade, and my mom took me to a Jesse Auditorium screening of Undefeated. It was a Friday Night Lights-in-real-life film that followed an underprivileged football team on a promising season after years of playoff misses. In 2013, I watched 20 Feet from Stardom, which made heroes out of the backup singers on iconic pop songs. Both films won Academy Awards for Best Documentary Feature.
Also in 2013, there was Crash Reel, which made me thankful for my brain and my family, about an Olympic prospect’s life-changing snowboarding accident. There was Life, Animated in 2016, Sonita that same year and Knock Down the House in 2019. There are True/False films (too many for me to list here) that stick with me from year to year because they are inspiring. They show glimpses of joy in otherwise unjoyful situations and perseverance in times of hardship.
But there are also films that stick with me because they are stranger than fiction. There was Finders Keepers, a 2015 selection, which I waited in a freezing cold Q for, about a man who finds a prosthetic leg in a grill and the man who was missing that leg’s quest to get it back. There was The Road Movie in 2017, unlike any movie I’ve ever seen, compiled entirely from dashcam footage. And last year, there was Mads Brügger’s Cold Case Hammarskjöld, an investigation- turned-conspiracy about the assassination of diplomat Dag Hammarskjöld.
True/False films are opportunities to see subjects from places you’ve never been and circumstances you’ll never experience. They are ways to travel the world from your seat. The festival allows, as you will read on page eight, a chance to hear filmmakers and subjects speak on their experiences from both sides of the camera. True/False presents an opportunity to see Oscar- winning films, documentaries that will pop up on television months later and shorts you’ll likely never get the chance to see again.
It seems fitting that this year’s festival theme is Foresight. I’m excited to find out which films and conversations stick with me beyond the weekend and into the 2020s, and we’re thrilled to have made this special “All Eyes on True/False” issue of Vox.