COLUMBIA — The upbeat sounds of Bramble, a folk-rock band from Salt Lake City, matched the energy of the crowd waiting in line for tickets to the True/False Film Festival, which started Thursday.
Coffee and folding chairs were out and ready at 8 a.m. on the southeast corner of Ninth and Cherry streets, where the box office is located.
Approaching the box office, customers were greeted with bands playing and a numbered ticket to later join the line inside. Greg Herron received a number at 8:40 a.m. and had to come back to line up around noon.
He has attended the Festival for the last couple years and said the line is the only hard part. "It's a little crowded, but I love the films," he said. "Once you get inside the theater and sit down, it's good."
David Wilson, co-director of the festival, said he thought everything was going well. Staff and volunteers ushered people in by groups of 50, and Wilson said he thought they could get 400 people in by 4 p.m.
By 2 p.m., box office directors had given out around 300 queue tickets, and there could have been more. By then, the folding chairs were gone, and most of the people in line had dispersed.
Development director Tracy Lane was calm and collected in the back room. Lane described the day as going "amazingly well and remarkably smooth."
"It's been going on so many years now that they've got it down to every detail," she said as she looked around for a place to knock on wood.
This year's big change was adding multiple showings for more popular films, providing more opportunities to see the films.
Lane explained the main goal of the festival was to never sell out. A buffer of tickets is left at the door of events, and some exchanges will be available throughout the weekend. "Attendees are really generous," she said. "If they realize they can't use a ticket, they return it to the box office."
Eileen McGuinn, Cafe Berlin owner and event attendee, said the event was "very user friendly" but regretted not booking online beforehand. However, McGuinn only had to wait about 40 minutes before returning to the box office in the afternoon.
Events committee volunteer Allie Scott waited in line for some of her friends. She has been attending the festival for the past three years and is volunteering for the first time. "It's just a really fun atmosphere," she said. "It's something unique that a lot of other towns don't get to experience."
The first films start at 5 p.m. Thursday.