Columbia, Missouri has long had a reputation as a pretty hip place and a lot of that has to do with the fact that the city is home to the University of Missouri, an institution known for drawing the best and brightest young minds. But in late winter, for ten years running now, even the goings-on at mighty Mizzou take a back seat to the buzz of what’s happening in downtown Columbia as the True/False Film Fest takes over.
True/False is a documentary film festival that’s significantly different from most in that the event is devoid of deal-making so when a luminary like director Morgan Spurlock (“Super Size Me”) makes an appearance, as he did in 2012, he is free to mingle and schmooze and simply talk about his films. And True/False filmgoers get a little spoiled; they saw the Academy Award winning doc “Searching for Sugar Man” a year ago, long before it saw wide release. “Searching for Sugar Man” also was one of a handful of films screened at True/False last year that happened to be about music, and music in general is always an integral part of the festivities.
Downtown Columbia is relatively small and easily navigable on foot and as people make their way from film house to film house they’ll discover live music everywhere, especially just outside of the theater. There’s never a dull moment inside either as bands or solo players perform before, between and after screenings, and there is a little something for everyone. Last year’s most talked about shows were put on by Les Trois Coups, an energetic and somewhat nutty group that came all the way from France to make their American debut at True/False. The eclectic line-up usually includes bands like Columbia’s very own psych/Americana band Richard the Lionhearted, Brooklyn trio Pearl & the Beard and a singer/songwriter who goes by the name Wine Teeth. This year about 40 acts are scheduled to appear, including blues act the Flood Brothers, delightfully-named performers like Lizzie Wright Super Space Ship, Jerusalem and the Starbaskets, A Hawk and a Hacksaw, David Wax Museum and Portland’s Wooden Indian Burial Ground. And just like the filmmakers and the “stars” of their documentaries that come to True/False, the musicians are accessible to fans.