Bowling for Columbia

An upstart film festival in Tiger Town is generating big buzz

"If you try and do a big general festival that tries to do everything, there are so many of those already that to get yourself noticed and to get distributors to allow you to show a film is incredibly difficult," says Macdonald. "But if you start up in a part of the country where there isn't such a thing as a documentary or animation festival, you can stand out from the crowd."

Adds Clark: "There are precious few documentary film festivals of import."

Hype, though, is nothing more than hot air until the closing credits have rolled, as a cautiously pessimistic Luhrssen is quick to remind.

"I don't know how they did it": Director Kevin Macdonald marvels at the True/False lineup.
Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert
"I don't know how they did it": Director Kevin Macdonald marvels at the True/False lineup.
The True/False Film Festival is the dreamchild of Paul Sturtz (left) and David Wilson (right).
The True/False Film Festival is the dreamchild of Paul Sturtz (left) and David Wilson (right).

Details

Friday, February 13, through Sunday, February 15. Tickets for individual films and events are $7 and may be purchased at the True/False box office (inside the Cherry Street Artisan building at 111 South Ninth Street, Columbia, MO). Tickets for the opening-night film are $10, and a full festival pass may be purchased for $50. Call 573-442-8783 for venues and more information.

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"I think it's kind of an illusion to assume that tens of thousands of college students are going to line up to see non-Hollywood movies," cautions the Milwaukee film maven.

Which re-raises the question: Is bigger and broader better? While Macdonald doesn't think so, Fog of War editor Karen Schmeer, who'll make the trip to Columbia with her film, offers a split perspective.

"It's probably nicer for [the audience] to have it more centered," says Schmeer, addressing the question of whether the small-city/niche-focus combination is an effective one. And, she concedes, it may be savvy from a business standpoint. "But I don't find them quite as fun to go to, because the variety isn't there. Also, it's kind of nice to have things to do besides see movies. Like Sundance -- it's so focused on Main Street, you don't feel like you're in the real world at all."

Then again, one might argue that the whole point of cinema is to escape, if only for two hours, the rigors of everyday life -- unless, of course, you're watching a documentary.

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