COMO YOU KNOW: True False Film Fest

Monday, March 5, 2012 | 3:00 p.m. CST; updated 8:01 p.m. CDT, Friday, May 9, 2014

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The True/False Film Fest is an annual four-day showing of nonfiction documentaries in Columbia. Established in 2004, True/False is held in downtown Columbia over a Thursday-Sunday weekend, usually in late February or early March. The festival brings dozens of films to theaters in downtown Columbia and on the Stephens College campus. Many of the films come straight from Sundance or Toronto festivals, and some are screened here before their official premieres.

A kickoff parade, panel discussions, music performance, and celebrations with food and drink are planned throughout the True/False Film Fest. Before, between and after film showings attendees have the opportunity to see concerts and attend discussions hosted by various restaurants and venues. The venues include the Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts, Ragtag Cinema, Forrest Theatre in the Tiger Hotel, the Columbia Herald Building, The Globe Theater, Jesse Hall at MU, the Odd Fellows Lodge and the Picture House.

Tickets for the True/False Film Festl range between $8 to $10 per film or up to $500 for a Super Circle Pass. Students receive discounted tickets, as they only have to pay $6 for admission to films as long as they buy tickets prior to the film at the box office and provide a valid student ID. Student tickets cost $10 at the door.



Phone: (573) 442-TRUE

Fax: (573) 499-4884




The first True/False Film Fest occurred in 2004 and was the product of documentary enthusiasts David Wilson and Paul Sturtz. David Wilson, a member of the Ragtag Cinema’s board of directors, and Paul Sturtz, the head booker for Ragtag Cinema, hatched the idea for True/False in the summer of 2003. They wanted to share their passion for documentaries with the Columbia community so they used their experience to create the True/False Film Festival.

In its first year, True/False used the Missouri Theatre, the Blue Note, and Ragtag Cinema as its three venues and sold out at least one of the showings to 1,200 people. The next year more than 50 filmmakers came to the festival and ticket sales topped 6,500. In 2006, more than 60 filmmakers attended, and in 2007 attendance almost reached 15,000 people. The following year ticket sales reached 18,000 and the film festival spread to Stephens College campus. In 2009, 23,000 people attended the True/False Film Fest. More than 500 volunteers help with the festival.

Special Events

True Life Fund: The True Life Fund began in 2007, the festival’s fourth year. Each year since then, one film is honored each year and money is raised to benefit the people that particular documentary features.

SWAMI Program: SWAMI is a mentor program that was created in 2007. The SWAMI program matches veteran filmmakers with others who are new to the nonfiction filmmaking.


The film festival awards one honor each year, the True Vision Award, which goes to a filmmaker or filmmakers whose work showcases a dedication to documentary films. Each winner receives a bronze statue created by Columbia artist Larry Young.


2012: Victor Kossakovsk

2011: James Marsh

2010: Laura Poitras

2009: Kim Longinotto 

2008: Alex Gibney 

2007: Brett Morgen

2006: Kirby Dick 

2005: Stephen Marshall 

2004: Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky 


True/False Film Fest Official Website

True/False Twitter

True/False Facebook Page

True/False Blog

True/False Flickr

An aggregate of stories about True/False from its website

2012 True/False Film Fest coverage by Columbia Missourian

2011 True/False Film Fest coverage by Columbia Missourian

2010 True/False Film Fest coverage by Columbia Missourian

2009 Columbia Missourian coverage by Columbia Missourian

Vox Magazine coverage:

2012 True/False Film Fest coverage by Vox

2011 True/False Film Fest coverage by Vox

2010 True/False Film Fest coverage by Vox

2009 True/False Film Fest coverage by Vox

Updated: March 5, 2012

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