True/False 2009 Wrap Up

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Yance FordPOV series producer Yance Ford was in Columbia, Missouri for the 2009 True/False Film Festival.

Watching films in Columbia, Missouri is way nicer than being stranded at the St. Louis airport. So despite the splendid company of filmmaker Esther Robinson and composer T. Griffin while waiting for my flight Monday night, I am glad to be home.

The True/False parade going down the street

The True/False Parade!

My first impressions of True/False, which I noted here last Friday, were pretty straightforward: friendly, easy to navigate, lacking pretension, etc. There are other aspects to my True/False experience worth noting as well:

The Audiences
The quality of festival Q&As is often a matter of chance. Sometimes the lights come up on movies I loved and not a single meaningful question is asked. Sometimes it’s the opposite. At True/False, the audiences engaged film directors in meaningful discussion after every screening. After moderating the Q&A for five films, I can say that the True/False audiences are some of the most engaged on the festival circuit. This kind of audience made the T/F experience richer for directors and a lot of fun for us all.

The College Students
I will NEVER understand how so many young women can go out in the freezing cold wearing so little clothing. Really. I fantasized about going around to the local bars passing out True/False postcards with the diptych: “This is your brain. This is your brain on film.” Picture on the left: barefoot student walking down East Broadway in 19 degree weather. Picture on the right: student cozy in the Ragtag Theater watching, say, Loot. Get it together, people!

The Marching Band
The Marching band at the True False ParadeThe March March is the funniest, simplest “parade” I’ve ever seen. Really, it’s a collection of community groups, costume-clad supporters, eight-foot-tall film cameras, green space aliens, filmmakers and a marching band. I LOVE marching bands. I stalked the marching band while they practiced and marched next to them in the parade. Check out the Missouri Drumline in a strictly unauthorized recording of their performance, courtesy of my iPhone.

The Swamis
The signs of the swami at the True/False festivalYou’ve heard of Korla Pandit, right? Me neither. It turns out that Columbia native John Roland Redd created an alter ego for himself: an Indian organist named Korla Pandit. Pandit became a star by gazing into television cameras in the 1940s, reading minds, perhaps, or imparting wisdom through the waves. True/False has continued the tradition by recruiting a team of modern-day Swamis who really can read minds. These documentary professionals are brought in to mentor first-time filmmakers whose work screens at True/False.

The Panels
As a “Ringleader,” my schedule made it tough to catch all the panels I wanted to see, but I did get to attend Kim Longinotto and Ollie Huddleston‘s panel on their director/editor relationship. The “Kim and Ollie Show,” as it was called, felt more like a master class than a panel. The nearly two-hour exchange featured clips from Hold Me Tight, Let Me Go (POV 2009), Rough Aunties, and Sisters in Law, with set-up comments from Longinotto and Huddleston. Their collaboration is one built on trust, deepened by a shared sensitivity for the range of human experience and a passion for storytelling. Ollie has a deep and abiding respect for Longinotto’s ability to capture brutally honest, brutally human moments on camera, which leads him to put “space” around these moments in his editing process, allowing the audience to absorb their impact.

The excerpt from Rough Aunties was a perfect example of that. The clip begins with the women of Operation Bobbi Bear responding to the scene of a home invasion in Durban, South Africa, where a man has been shot. Huddleston begins the scene with one of the aunties, Jackie, asking seemingly mundane questions of the shooting victims’ daughter. With the little girl on her knee, Jackie asks her if she’s hungry, if she’s scared, if she’d talk to her friend; then a psychologist tells the little girl how brave she’s been as she offers her a cup of tea. Only then does the girl recount the break-in: How her father confronted the robbers and was shot, how her mother fought the robbers, and was shot at with an empty gun. It’s incredible stuff, made more so because of Longinotto’s patience on location and Huddleston’s patience with the scene in the edit. Visit the Rougie Aunties website for information on where you can see the film.

Paul Sturtz and David Wilson
At the helm of an army of volunteers and amazing staff (The Inner Core), David and Paul have a created a gem of a festival.
Congratulations, True/False — and see you next year!

Yance Ford
Yance Ford
Yance works closely with POV's executive director and programming director to evaluate films submitted to POV She is instrumental in curating the series, a showcase of acclaimed documentary film on PBS. Yance frequently represents POV | American Documentary at conferences, festivals and markets, procuring work from filmmakers both nationally and internationally. Yance also oversees POV's annual call for entries, which yields upwards of one thousand entries, and coordinates POV's annual programming advisory board. Yance is a Programming Consultant and Pre- Screener for film festivals around the country, including the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, the Black Maria Film Festival, the Newport International Film Festival, Latino Public Broadcasting, Creative Capital and the Sundance Film Festival. She has served on festival juries at Full Frame and Silverdocs, appeared on panels at Sunny Side of the Doc and DocuClub and served on the IFP Advisory Committee. A graduate of Hamilton College and the production workshop at Third World Newsreel, Yance is a former Production Stage Manager for the Girls Choir of Harlem and has worked as a Production Manager on numerous independent productions for the Discovery Health and History channels. Ford has also worked in various capacities on the documentaries The Favorite Poem Project, Juanita Anderson, Executive Producer, Brian Lanker's They Drew Fire (PBS), and Barry Levinson's Yesterday's Tomorrows (Showtime). Yance's favorite documentaries include: 1. Hands on a Hard Body 2. Tongues Untied 3. Harlan County, USA 4. Cul de Sac 5. When We Were Kings 6. The Thin Blue Line 7. Night and Fog