True/False ticket sales: controlled madness, excitement and a little disappointment

Thursday, February 26, 2009 | 5:49 p.m. CST; updated 11:39 p.m. CST, Thursday, February 26, 2009
Shireen Razavi and Jeff Beuhler fill ticket orders at the Cherry Street Artisan Annex on Thursday afternoon. True/False Film Festival goers lined up early in the day to get the first tickets that went on sale at noon.

COLUMBIA — The scene at the True/False Film Festival box office was one of controlled madness as festival-goers crowded the Cherry Street Artisan Annex on Thursday to purchase film tickets to the documentary festival.

In prelude to the weekend, festival enthusiasts and documentary film directors are being active participants. Both could be found at the box office to pick up passes and purchase tickets.

Box office hours

What: Ticket sales and pass pickup

Where: Cherry Street Artisan Annex, 808 Cherry St.

When: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday

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Director Lindsey Dryden was there to pick up her pass. Dryden, from Brighton, England, flew in on Wednesday to attend her first American film festival with her first film, "Close Your Eyes and Look at Me."

Dryden, 27, who brought her dad to the festival, said she feels nervous to participate in the required question-and-answer sessions at the showings Saturday and Sunday. Although she is able to spark conversation through her film, Dryden explained she may have difficulty in front of the audience because she described herself as shy and prefers to be behind the camera..

“Close Your Eyes and Look at Me” is a six-minute documentary about a 25-year-old Muslim woman from Edinburgh, Britain, who wears a hajib despite the controversy it causes. The film, part of a series of shorts titled "Profiling," tells how she feels liberated by her head scarf. It shows at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in the Forrest Theater, 23 S. Eighth St., and at 6 p.m. Sunday in the Little Ragtag, part of the Ragtag Cinema, 10 Hitt St.

Volunteers greeted ticket-buyers and people picking up passes at the front of the box office, which was moved from its previous location inside the Artisan to the building beside it, named the annex. The box office opened at 9 a.m., when volunteers began handing out line tickets in an attempt to organize the anticipated crowd.

Festival co-director Paul Sturtz said they have done line tickets before, but this year they decided to organize it like a Southwest Airlines flight. Festival-goers were handed out color-coded tickets with an assigned letter and number. The “A flights” were asked to come back at noon, where they would then line up according to their numbers.

Each flight carried 100 passengers, with one flight per hour, beginning at noon. By 11:30 a.m. volunteers were distributing line tickets for the “C flights.”

Cindy Squire, from just outside of Columbia, held a C9 line ticket as she described her excitement at attending the festival for the first time. Squire described the festival as a “learning experience” and a chance to immerse herself into a crowd of people with different perspectives and values.

Her son, a student at Hickman High School, was required to attend the festival last year as part of an assignment. He insisted his mother check out the festival this year. Squire purchased the more expensive, all-access Silver Circle Pass for herself, her husband and her mother-in-law, who flew in from Iowa for the weekend. She plans to see at least 12 films.

Kevin Quinn, although excited for the weekend, was bummed that he was only able to purchase tickets to five of the films he wanted to see.

“The moral of the story is buy a pass,” Quinn said.

Even though he arrived at the box office at 8:45 a.m., 15 minutes before it opened, he received an A85 line number and was only able to get a ticket to about half of the films he wanted.

Beth Kopine, box office coordinator for True/False, said the crowd had been steady since 9 a.m. but things had managed to stay relatively calm.

"Today is the toughest day as far as for the box office," Kopine said, adding that the box office will be open throughout the weekend.

The Artisan Annex is roughly the same size as the Artisan, but ticket-buyers are given more space to relax and enjoy the experience, without having to bother with  a lunch crowd. The box office includes a lounge area filled with sofas, lamps and reading material while people wait for their “flight numbers” to be called. On the walls are photographs by’s Brett Marty, a photographer from San Francisco. The photographs are from his series “On the Road: Campaign ’08.”

Also on display is information for festival-goers, reminding them that their ticket reservations are not a guarantee and they still need to arrive to the theater at least 10 minutes before the film begins to grab a seat.

At the door of the box office is a list of films with available tickets. As of noon Thursday afternoon, 33 of the 42 film showings still had available tickets. If tickets for a certain film are no longer available, they will be listed as NRT (no reserve tickets), however that does not mean they are sold out.

According to the True/False Web site, hopeful attendees can go to a showing an hour before if they are unable to reserve or purchase a ticketbeforehand. Much like the box office is organized, “Q” tickets, are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis  and can be used to purchase a ticket to fill any available seats in the theater.

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