True/False Film Festival receives grant from motion picture academy

Thursday, December 31, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CST; updated 11:17 a.m. CST, Wednesday, February 3, 2010

COLUMBIA — Columbia’s own True/False Film Festival received a $20,000 grant from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences to go toward the 2010 documentary film festival held in February.

The grant is a portion of the $450,000 awarded by the academy to 24 U.S. film festivals for the 2010 calendar year. Festival organizers were encouraged to submit proposals intended to make festival events more accessible to the general public, provide greater access to minority and less visible filmmakers and help strengthen connections between filmmakers and the general public, according to the academy's 2009 Film Festival Grants Program guidelines.

The festival will use funds from this grant in the area of "strengthening the connection between filmmakers and general public." This means providing exposure and travel necessities for first-time and returning filmmakers, festival co-director David Wilson said.

"I don't know of another festival in the U.S. that goes to the lengths that we go to in terms of bringing in filmmakers, providing for ... their lodging and also a lot of their food and just generally taking care of filmmakers who come to the festival," Wilson said.

Wilson also said the grant from the academy is basically "letting us maintain what we do."

Both Wilson and his co-director, Paul Sturtz, applied for the grant earlier this year  and received the amount they applied for. This marks the first year in which the True/False Film Festival was eligible to receive a grant from the academy. Festivals that have been held five times over a five-year period are eligible for the grant.

Wilson said this $20,000 grant is the single largest grant that the festival has received during its seven years.

"We have always striven to be a different festival in a lot of ways, and it’s really gratifying that the academy looked at and said, 'Hey, this is something we want to support (and) want to get behind,'" Wilson said.

The 2010 True/False Film Festival is now recruiting more than 500 volunteers to help present the seventh annual documentary film festival in downtown Columbia. Organizers say volunteers will be needed for all areas of the festival, including venue operations, box office, merchandise and special events. In exchange for the minimum 15 hours of service, volunteers will receive passes to the festival and official T-shirts. The festival will run from Feb. 25 to 28, 2010.

"In general I think I can say we are unique amongst festivals in that we are a volunteer-run festival, so there isn't any aspect (of the festival) in one way that doesn't involve the community," Justin Arft, production manager for the festival, said. "We sort of offer the keys to the kingdom in that way, the festival itself is kind of an expression of the general public in Columbia."

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