A taste for True/False

Columbia businesses chronicle successes of True/False Film Festival
Tuesday, March 6, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 3:06 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

“True/False has descended,” read a line of children’s magnetic letters on a sign at the Ragtag Cinemacafe. The Tenth Street theater was “closed for sleeping” Monday, according to its Web site, after the four-day True/False Film Festival.


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About 14,500 tickets were sold for the fourth annual documentary festival, compared with about 10,600 last year, organizer David Wilson said.

“There will be a few more weeks of work to get everything in order,” said Wilson, who acknowledged his voice lacked the excitement it had last week and during the four-day festival. The work includes finishing the budget and sending out thank yous to festival filmmakers and participants.

Wilson, using a rather loose formula that mixes ticket sales and past experience, estimates that about 7,000 people watched one or more of the 70 short and feature-length documentaries. He estimates the crowd last year at 5,000.

The influx of people downtown affected business. Addison’s restaurant, which catered the closing reception before the made-in-Columbia “American Shopper” on Sunday night, reported brisk business at the Cherry Street restaurant. “The whole weekend was extremely good,” owner Adam Dushoff said.

Mike Ebert, owner of the Regency Hotel on East Broadway, said the number

of rooms booked on Thursday and Sunday of the festival was way above last year; on Friday and Saturday, the hotel was sold out. Ashley Pair, sales associate at Swank Boutique on East Broadway, said there was a “constant in and out of people,” more than usual.

On Monday, the people were gone, but there were reminders of the big film weekend. The True/False banners hung from light posts, and the festival posters featuring Columbia artist Joel Sager’s painting of a giant squid and an ivory-billed woodpecker decorated business windows and the entryway of the Missouri Theatre.

Inside the theater at about noon, bottles and the remains of a buffet that fed hundreds of festival-goers Sunday evening were gone. But the place still smelled faintly of alcohol, which had probably helped fuel the communal joy in watching “American Shopper.” Shot largely at Schnuck’s Supermarket, the film chronicled “aisling” — that is, grocery shopping as performance art — and starred several people from the area. Applause and whooping broke out every time a face familiar to someone in the audience appeared on-screen.

Wilson said the festival highlight for him was raising about $6,000 for the True Life Fund. New to the festival, the fund helps pay for education and improvements at orphanages in South Africa. It was shown in conjunction with a film about a gospel choir at a South African orphanage that was having a “secret showing” in Columbia and will have its official world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival; Wilson has asked the press not to name it.


Tyler Richardson removes letters on the marquee of the Missouri Theatre after the True/False Film Festival ended on Sunday. (AARON ROSENBLATT/Missourian)

At the showing Saturday afternoon, Wilson said someone had given $1,000 anonymously and asked the audience whether anyone else would do the same. A man raised his hand. “Sure,” he said.

“It was awesome,” Wilson recalled, “and a really great feeling.”

Missourian reporters Alyson Hall and Kyle Stewart contributed to this article.

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