I've been attending the True/False Film Festival in Columbia in some form four out of the last five years. The festival fills the streets of Columbia, creates this insanely dedicated community of enthusiasts, and inflates local business' profit for the weekend.
It's a weird festival. Constantly on the cusp of becoming a premier film festival, but remaining just small enough to keep the Yuppies and Hollywood types from descending on the college town and ruining everything. Its weird walking the streets and wandering by a table at a cafe where 3-4 of the directors are hanging out, eating sandwiches, and drinking beers.
It's also a huge advantage to know the town. Whereas most of the tourists wandered into places like Shakespears and Harpos, Sallie and I were able to avoid the large crowds and have intimate and entertaining dinners and drinks off the beaten path.
Unfortunately, the growth of the festival seems to have gotten to the point where they're going to need to add a few venues and possibly another day.
This year, Sallie and I bought the step up on our passes. Unlike last year where we got to see any movie Friday-Sunday, this year we could see movies Thursday-Sunday and get into all of the events.
We're supposed to be able to choose tickets before most of the film goers, but as I was on the website clicking the movies we wanted to see, our prime choices started dissapearing quickly. I had to make some quick decisions and hit the submit button without thinking much about it. We didn't get into two of the movies we really wanted to see and had nothing to watch all Friday morning.
Last year, with these passes, we were able to line up outside the theater and if people that had tickets didn't show up to the film, they would let us in.
This year, so many people didn't get tickets to the films that the lines for the queue were double and sometimes triple the length of who would get in.
So Friday we bummed around downtown all day. We tried to get into three different movies and were turned away every time. We were running out of things to do. We didn't want to hop back in the car and go to the hotel because we had prime parking and had hope we would see a movie. We basically went to Slackers five times and drank wine out of boredom.
Then the tornado sirens started blaring. The streets empties. Sallie and I were left in Top 10 Wines, sipping on a smoky red wine, watching the chaos outside. Not the worst way to spend apocalyptic weather. (Until you realized that we are in a building filled with glass.)
Saturday and Sunday were much more productive and we felt better about the money we spent on the tickets.
We finally saw some films, most of which were entertaining, but average. This gives short descriptions and reviews of everything we saw. Most of these films aren't out on DVD yet. Some even had their world premier at True/False.
-Fake it So Real: This is about Professional Amateur wrestlers in North Carolina. It was very interesting, sort of heartbreaking. You see the characters giving two weekends a month to entertain 10-40 people. They bust their bodies and are lucky to make $20. It really was carried by the characters who were all surprisingly charismatic and fairly intelligent. Went on for about 15 minutes too much.
-Secret Screening Purple: I can't talk about this one because it hasn't officially released yet.
-Resurrect Dead: This was one of the most interesting films of the festival. Was something out of the X-files. These weird messages pop up all around the world on the street and these guys become obsessed with finding out who is making them. I even asked a question of the director in front of a few hundred people. (He only gave me a half answer which was upsetting.)
-Campfire Stories: This wasn't a movie, but rather the directors (and sometimes subjects of the film) got up in front of a crowd and told us stories about the scenes that they didn't catch. There were stories that made you laugh, cry, just really made you marvel at these people's ability to tell a story. What made this better is we got smores.
-Knuckle: This film was about feuding Irish families and how they would have bare knuckle boxing fights in the street to settle differences. Real violent, but at the same time, these families are having short boxing matches instead of shooting each other on the street. If gangs were able to settle their differences this way, the world would be a better place.
-The Arbor: Pretentious without any true direction or subject. This is the only film we hated.
-The Burger and the King: There was a short about the civil rights movement at the beginning that was one of the best films we saw. Then the actual documentary was a series of interviews with the people that made Elvis' food. That man could eat!
-The Pruit Igoe Myth: This was one of the most heartbreaking of films. It tells the story of the demise of St. Louis. People moving out of the city after World War II caused lack of money because of loss of taxes, which then made the city start falling apart. It's hard to watch the destruction of something you have so much pride for.
-Shut Up Little Man: This started off strong. Two guys move to San Francisco and find that their neighbors are hilarious drunks. They record the guys fighting and start passing the tapes around. It becomes a big deal, thousands of people hear the tapes. This is about those guys trying to justify what they did. Gets really pathetic toward the end. It's a shame, started out so strong.
-Page One: Inside the New York Times: This was by far the best documentary of the festival. It not only showed you the inside workings of the New York Times, but David Carr, one of the main subjects, really gives hope for the future of journalism. I haven't seen Sallie smiling about her profession that much since she graduated.
-Bobby Fischer Against the World: Bobby Fischer, chess genius, bat-sh*t insane. This follows Bobby Fischer through his life and basically shows that when you re-wire your brain for something like chess, you can really mess yourself up.