For those who haven’t heard of it / frequently forget that there is an entire expanse of America in between the coasts, True/False is an eight-year-old all-documentary film festival that takes place on the winter/spring border in Columbia, Missouri, that has been likened to Telluride before Telluride got all corporate, or whatever. There are parties and workshops and important film industry people and that Speed Levitch guy from Waking Life. If you’re living in the proximity of it, you should go. There’s still time. And I can live vicariously through you and relive my freewheeling undergrad days. But the point of the festival is documentaries, and docs that have screened at T/F (usually along with a whole mess of other stops on the festival circuit) have gone on to big things. Past selections include Man On Wire, Oscar winner Taxi to the Dark Side, GasLand and Restrepo (Rest in peace, Tim Hetherington).
Anyway, here are six docs that will be at the festival this weekend worth checking out now or keeping an eye out for when they make the rounds where you are.
Bully (Dir. Lee Hirsch)
We’ve written about Bully before for the same reasons most people have, in that the movie has gotten a lot of media attention not just for its subject, but because of the MPAA’s obstinate stance of maintaining the film’s "R" rating, effectively barring the film’s intended audience: children and teens. That said, even if it’s not the greatest documentary ever made, it’s still a documentary capable of doing what documentaries are meant to do: get people to talk. Because the MPAA continues to lack any sort of forward thinking, if you are a responsible parent with an underage child incapable of sneaking into R-rated movies, take your kids to see it.
(Bully will be shown at T/F on Saturday, March 3rd at 3:30 pm at Jesse Auditorium and Sunday, March 4th at 3 p.m. at the Missouri Theatre. Director Lee Hirsch and the subjects of the film will be holding a Q&A session afterward.)
Detropia (Dirs. Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady)
Documentarian team Ewing and Grady are adept at giving human faces to serious, divisive, intense and often discussed with prejudice topics. There is no better evidence of this than their Oscar-nominated doc Jesus Camp, about the evangelical Kids On Fire School of Ministry camp in North Dakota, where children are trained to be young soldiers on the front lines of key religious right battles, most notably the one to end abortion. Their newest work focuses on the dystopian reality that is Detroit post-manufacturing collapse, with stories coming from club owners, bloggers and scrap metal gatherers alike. As with Jesus Camp, radio broadcasts connecting the narrative to larger national conversations serve as a thru-line.
(Detropia will be shown at T/F on Friday, March 2nd at 8:30 at the Picturehouse, Saturday, March 3rd at 6 p.m. at the Globe Theater and Sunday, March 4th at 10 a.m. at The Blue Note.)
Me @ the Zoo (Dirs. Chris Mourkabel and Valerie Veatch)
Citizens of the Internet, it finally happened. There is a documentary about Chris Crocker. The human meme best known for "Leave Britney Alone" is the subject of a part-character study, part-investigation of Internet fame and its growth into a legitimate business model. For those that didn’t catch it at Sundance, where it was also an official selection, here’s another chance.
(Me @ the Zoo will be shown at T/F on Friday, March 2nd at 10 p.m. at The Blue Note and Saturday, March 3rd at 12:30 p.m. at The Missouri Theatre.)
Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present (Dir. Matthew Akers) and Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (Dir. Alison Klayman)
There are two documentaries at T/F focused on high-profile contemporary artists, one about dissident and Olympic stadium constructor Ai Weiwei and the other about performance art maven Marina Abramovic. Never Sorry director Klayman previously produced a 20-minute video to run with Ai’s 2009 exhibition of photographs of his time in New York; Akers’ last stint as a doc director, Nimrod Nation, also was a T/F selection.
(Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry will be shown at T/F on Saturday, March 3rd at The Picturehouse and Sunday, March 4th at 1:30 p.m. at Jesse Auditorium. Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present will be shown Saturday, March 3rd at 3 p.m. at the Missouri Theatre and Sunday, March 4th at 5:30 p.m. at The Blue Note.)
¡Vivan Las Antípodas! (Dir. Victor Kossakovsky)
This is the kind of movie that falls into that Tree of Life / Meek’s Cutoff category of people will really love it because it is aesthetically beautiful and moving or they will really hate it because it is long and boring and confusing. Kossakovsky, who won the festival’s True Vision Award for 2012, compares and contrasts four of the world’s antipodes. Hard to follow, it may be. Lacking ambition, it ain’t.
(¡Vivan Las Antipodas! will be shown at T/F on Friday, March 2nd at 5:30 p.m. at the Globe Theater, Saturday March 3rd at 5:45 p.m. at the Missouri Theatre and Sunday, March 4th at 4 p.m. at the Globe.)