By Ray Pride

True/False Film Fests Sets 2018 Slate

Columbia, Missouri – True/False Film Fest is proud to announce its 2018 slate of 40 new feature films that expand the boundaries of nonfiction and invite audiences to be challenged, inspired, and entertained.

These films were selected from roughly 1,300 submissions plus hundreds more scouted at festivals around the world. The festival seeks to highlight work that exhibits the highest levels of craft, tells untold stories and creatively advances the documentary form.

A half-dozen films will mark their festival debut at True/False. América, from filmmaking team Chase Whiteside and Erick Stoll, tenderly portrays a playful trio of brothers who step up to take care of their grandmother in Colima, Mexico. In Black Mother, Khalik Allah takes audiences on a spiritual journey through Jamaica. Miles Lagoze’s Combat Obscura is the ultimate insider’s view of Marines in Afghanistan. Lovers of the Night, from Anna Frances Ewert, introduces Irish monks, holding on faithfully to their fragile monastery, as they confide their most profound secrets. Kim Hopkins’ Voices of the Sea takes viewers toa Cuban seaside where a couple must wrestle with whether to stay or go. The Task is Leigh Ledare’s provocation in which a confounding group of strangers cross-examine their tangled group dynamic.

Twelve other films are launching their stateside tours at True/False. Leilah Weinraub’s Shakedown is already being described as a “lo-fi Magic Mike XXL,” a raucous celebration of a black lesbian strip club. Flight of a Bullet is a revelatory, singular take on the war movie embedded within a controversial pro-Ukrainian group. Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami features the iconic singer as she magically dances between down-to-earth moments with her Jamaican family and pure transcendence on stage. Makala is an epic journey film set in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Four countries are represented for the first time within the True/False selection. From Uruguay, directors Adriana Loeff and Claudia Abend observe a prickly marriage in La Flor de la Vida. Both The Family, Rok Biček’s intimate decade-long study of a young father, and Playing Men, Matjaž Ivanišin’s lush survey of regional games and sports, hail from Slovenia. Dieudo Hamadi’s Kinshasa Makambo follows the efforts of a group of young activists in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Next Guardian, co-directed by Dorottya Zurbó and Arun Bhattarai, delivers a charming story of two siblings in Bhutan.

2018 continues with the fest’s most internationally-diverse lineup ever. This includes a far-ranging group of films from Argentina (Primas), Chile (Adriana’s Pact), Brazil (Gabriel and the Mountain), Mexico (Artemio), Romania (António e Catarina), France (Makala), Germany (Lovers of the Night), the UK (American Animals, Voices of the Sea, Three Identical Strangers, Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami, and Westwood), Syria (Of Fathers and Sons), China (Taming the Horse and Self-Portrait: Birth in 47KM), and Russia (Flight of a Bullet).

As in past editions, this year’s True/False lineup features a selection of fiction films in conversation with their nonfiction brethren. American Animals is a white-knuckled heist film from director Bart Layton (The Imposter). In The Rider, a breathtaking new film from Chloé Zhao, a young cowboy’s family and friends portray versions of themselves as Zhao traces a script around the experiences of her non-professional actors. Gabriel and the Mountain, from Brazilian director Fellipe Barbosa, retraces his adventurous friend’s last days in East Africa with the help of the real people who met him.

And last, but certainly not least, the latest edition of the festival features films from two frequent visitors – Robert Greene returns for a record fifth time with Bisbee ‘17, a wildly creative look at labor history in Arizona. And Morgan Neville (Oscar-winner with 20 Feet From Stardom) presents his fourth T/F feature, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (presented by Veterans United), a cultural history of Fred Rogers. And True/False will feature first-time feature director Tim Wardle’s Three Identical Strangers as the post-parade Reality Bites screening.

As previously announced, this year’s True Vision Award recipient is the Congolese filmmaker Dieudo Hamadi, whose newest work Kinshasa Makambo will be played along with his earlier film National Diploma. The True Vision Award is presented by Restoration Eye Care. And Laura Bari’s Primas, our True Life Fund Film, is an evocative portrait of two Argentinian cousins, Rocío Álvarez and Aldana Bari Gonzalez, freeing themselves from the shadow of their violent pasts. The True Life Fund is sponsored by The Crossing and funded in part by the Bertha Foundation.

The 15th True/False Film Fest will take place March 1-4 in downtown Columbia, Missouri. For more information, visit

Adriana’s Pact (dir. Lissette Orozco; 2017)

The director idolized her glamorous aunt, whose political past holds dark secrets. (Presented by the Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy)

América (dirs. Chase Whiteside & Erick Stoll; 2018)

A colorful trio of Mexican brothers are called home to take care of their grandmother in this playful and tender family portrait.

American Animals (dir. Bart Layton; 2018)

A group of larcenous college students obsess about freeing a rare edition of Audubon’s “Birds of America” in this white-knuckled heist film.

António e Catarina (dir. Cristina Haneș; 2017)

Under cover of the night “António” and “Catarina” tiptoe around each other in this introspective character study.

Artemio (dir. Sandra Luz López Barroso, 2017)

In this lushly photographed film, an Americanized mother and son return to their Mexican village where the telephone becomes a lifeline.

Bisbee ’17 (dir. Robert Greene; 2018)

Robert Greene creatively reimagines a dark chapter in labor history when organizing miners were sent packing.

Black Mother (dir. Khalik Allah; 2018)

A spiritual journey through Jamaica, the island in the sun, a place of unparalleled resilience and beauty.

Caniba (dirs. Verena Paravel & Lucien Castaing-Taylor; 2017)

This disturbing slice-of-life probes the limits of our understanding of Issei Sagawa, an admitted murderer and cannibal, and his caretaker brother Jun.

Combat Obscura (dir. Miles Lagoze; 2018)

The daily lives of Marines in Afghanistan as filmed by active duty combat cameramen from the ultimate insider’s perspective.

Crime + Punishment  (dir. Stephen Maing; 2018)

Inside the extraordinary “NYPD 12,” renegade cops bravely resisting corruption and racial profiling.

The Family (dir. Rok Biček; 2017)

Young Matej just can’t seem to catch a break – but now he must rise to the occasion of being a father.

Flight of a Bullet (dir. Beata Bubenec; 2017)

Opening with a kidnapping at gunpoint, this single-shot film finds its director, alone, embedded with a group of threatening Ukrainian soldiers.

La Flor de la Vida (dirs. Adriana Loeff & Claudia Abend; 2017)

Introverted Gabriella and extroverted Aldo are at a crossroads in their five-decade-old marriage.

Gabriel and the Mountain (dir. Fellipe Barbosa; 2017)

Brazilian director Fellipe Barbosa retraces his adventurous friend’s last days in Africa with the help of the real people who met him.

Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami (dir. Sophie Fiennes; 2017)

From Jamaican family dinner to the world stage, iconic Grace Jones magically dances between down-to-earth moments and pure transcendence.

Hale County This Morning, This Evening (dir. RaMell Ross; 2018)

Inventing a new film language, this film fearlessly reimagines the way black lives are portrayed on-screen through the stories of two young men in Hale County, Alabama.

Kinshasa Makambo (dir. Dieudo Hamadi; 2018)

True Vision honoree Dieudo Hamadi follows courageous young revolutionaries seeking to wrest control of the Democratic Republic of Congo. (Presented by Restoration Eyecare)

Love Means Zero (dir. Jason Kohn; 2017)

Anti-hero Nick Bollettieri, the quintessential tennis coach of the last 40 years, sports an ego that knows no bounds, causing a rift with celebrated student Andre Agassi.

Lovers of the Night (dir. Anna Frances Ewert; 2018)

Seven Irish monks, holding on faithfully to their fragile monastery, confide their most tender secrets.

Makala (dir. Emmanuel Gras; 2017)

In this spectacular and eventful journey, Kabwita hand-delivers charcoal to a faraway marketplace against epic odds.

MATANGI/MAYA/M.I.A. (dir. Steve Loveridge; 2018)

Relying on a rich trove of self-shot videos, this film charts the incendiary art and politics of Maya Arulpragasam, better known as M.I.A.

National Diploma (dir. Dieudo Hamadi; 2014)

Determined Congolese students band together to pass a high-stakes graduation exam from True Vision honoree Dieudo Hamadi.

The Next Guardian (dirs. Dorottya Zurbó & Arun Bhattarai; 2017)

In a remote Bhutanese village, teenage siblings Gyembo and Tashi crave freedom and adventure.

Of Fathers and Sons (dir. Talal Derki; 2017)

A seasoned Al Qaeda sniper in Syria readies his 12-year-old to follow his footsteps in this never-before-seen immersion into the world of radical jihadis.

Our New President (dir. Maxim Pozdorovkin; 2018)

By turns hilarious, exhilarating, and terrifying, this deep dive into the world of Russian (fake) news offers critical lessons about 21st century propaganda.

Playing Men (dir. Matjaž Ivanišin; 2017)

A sometimes winking, sometimes eye-opening, cabinet of curiosities of peculiar games and sports, gorgeously shot all over the Mediterranean.

The Price of Everything (dir. Nathaniel Kahn; 2018)

Modern art is now a bankable commodity where art-stars like Jeff Koons and investors succeed wildly, leaving others in the dust.

Primas (dir. Laura Bari; 2017)

Two cousins Rocio and Aldana courageously transcend trauma through creative therapy in this True Life Fund selection. (Presented by The Crossing)

The Rider (dir. Chloé Zhao; 2017)

A young rodeo cowboy navigates health and family after a potentially career-ending injury, in this lush mashup of doc and fiction.

Secret Screening Gale

Fighting from within a Kafkaesque bureaucracy, a small group of committed crusaders make a stand.

Secret Screening Mistral

An impressionistic portrait of an individual who reaches for glory, falls short, and tries again.

Secret Screening Zephyr

This convincing environmental rallying cry offers a trip to the center of the world’s mysteries.

Self-Portrait: Birth in 47KM (dir. Mengqi Zhang; 2016)

Delicate scenes of village life anchor moving interviews with a survivor of the Great Famine, a subject still taboo in China.

Shakedown (dir. Leilah Weinraub; 2018)

A raucous, joyous celebration of an underground black lesbian strip club in early 2000’s Los Angeles.

Shirkers (dir. Sandi Tan; 2018)

A misfit band of young women shoot Singapore’s first independent movie with the help of a shadowy mentor, then the film mysteriously vanishes.

Taming the Horse (dir. Tao Gu; 2017)

In the dog-eat-dog world of modern China, Dong wanders aimlessly, looking for romance – and the meaning of life.

The Task (dir. Leigh Ledare; 2017)

A group of strangers cross-examine their tangled group dynamics, until the director must intervene.

Three Identical Strangers (dir. Tim Wardle; 2018)

Separated at birth, Robert, Edward and David become pop culture icons in the ‘80s after discovering they are identical triplets, then things get weird.

Voices of the Sea (dir. Kim Hopkins; 2018)

In a small seaside town in Cuba, Mariela longs for the elusive American Dream, while her fisherman husband Pita tamps down her wanderlust.

Westwood (dir. Lorna Tucker; 2018)

Fashionista Vivienne Westwood, who invented the look of British punk in the ‘70s, now owns a sprawling empire, but remains a singular iconoclast.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (dir. Morgan Neville; 2018)

A behind-the-scenes, radical history of Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood, directed by T/F favorite Morgan Neville (20 Feet From Stardom). (Presented by Veterans United)


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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon