By Ray Pride

True/False Sets Media Literacy Initiative


JANUARY 30, 2017

True/False Film Fest


The Media Literacy Initiative is True/False’s ambitious new educational partnership with Ragtag Cinema, Columbia Public Schools, and the Columbia Public Schools Foundation. After more than 10 years of high school programming, T/F recognized that students are often already documentarians. Constantly recording, archiving and compiling fragments of their daily lives, they make rhetorical and editorial decisions on social media platforms. This initiative seeks to help students think critically about everyday media decisions. Our partnership acknowledges that in a world of ever-changing media, distribution platforms, and news outlets, it’s essential for students to learn the skills to be thoughtful, critical consumers.

The multi-tiered Initiative, spanning several years, will employ media practitioners to train first-year teachers,  culminating this summer at True/False’s first annual Media Literacy Summer Institute. The initiative will introduce more media/ film analysis in classrooms and fund the rights for screening films. It will also provide field trips to Ragtag Cinema for cinematic experiences, and sponsor all Columbia Public Schools sophomores for a district-wide field trip to True/False.

During the fest, teachers involved with the Media Literacy programming will be working with Camp True/False and DIY Day, two programs for high school students that offer behind-the-scenes, whirlwind festival experiences. Camp True/False participants meet in the months preceding the fest to learn about storytelling and the history of documentary and to research T/F films. This is the second year that Camp T/F has expanded beyond the borders of Columbia: The local high-schoolers will be joined by students from North Carolina; St. Louis; and Bunceton, Missouri, as part of a partnership with Mizzou Advantage.

DIY Day is an all-day immersion in experiential learning, specifically designed for high school students. It begins with a T/F film screening of I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO, the 2017 Oscar-nominated docu-essay about prophetic 20th-century author James Baldwin. This screening and Q&A with producer Hébert Peck will be followed by an afternoon of hands-on workshops in which 200 self-selected students learn from more than a dozen filmmakers, artists, musicians, storytellers, actors, and others. Workshop leaders include Boaz Balachsan, a digital animator who will teach how to make animated documentaries; Andrew Leland, host of The Organist podcast from KCRW and The Believer magazine, who will facilitate a workshop on audio storytelling; Thanya Iyer, a T/F busker hosting a musical workshop; and Voice of Witness, an oral-history organization whose mission is to amplify the voices of people impacted by injustice. For a full list of participants, visit the bottom half of

Students are also encouraged to attend the Filmmaker Discussion and Artist Discussion, two lecture series that take place on Thursday, March 2. Artist talks run for 75 minutes and are held on the University of Missouri campus. Four artists and five filmmakers will be participating in craft talks. Artists include Alicia Eggert, whose neon piece “All That is Possible is Real” will be on display in Alley A during the fest. Eggert is an interdisciplinary artist whose work focuses on the relationship between language, image, and time. Her artwork often moves, changes, deteriorates, and, in some cases, even dies. These Filmmaker Discussion and Artist Discussion series are free and open to the general public and are in partnership with the Missouri Humanities Council with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

True/False strives to provide extracurricular educational programming that increases the presence of film in core classrooms, helps teachers and students learn to read film as text, and cultivates and enhances critical thinking skills as teachers and students practice analyzing new media. The Media Literacy Initiative recognizes that students deserve tools to think consciously about the ways their world is presented to them and the ways they present their world.

The True/False Film Fest will take place March 2-5 in downtown Columbia, Missouri. For more information, please visit For information on the educational programming available at the fest, visit:

Comments are closed.

Quote Unquotesee all »

The Atlantic: You saw that the Academy Awards recently held up your 2001 acceptance speech as the Platonic ideal of an Oscar speech. Did you have a reaction?

Soderbergh: Shock and dismay. When that popped up and people started texting me about it, I said, “Oh, it’s too bad I’m not there to tell the story of how that took place.” Well. I was not sober at the time. And I had nothing prepared because I knew I wasn’t going to win [Best Director for Traffic]. I figured Ridley, Ang or Daldry would win. So I was hitting the bar pretty hard, having a great night, feeling super-relaxed because I don’t have to get up there. So the combination of a 0.4 blood alcohol level and lack of preparation resulted in me, in my state of drunkenness crossed with adrenaline surge. I was coherent enough to know that [if I tried to thank everyone], that way lies destruction. So I went the other way. There were some people who appreciated that, and there were some people who really wanted to hear their names said, and I had to apologize to them.
~ Steven Soderbergh


“I have made few films in a way. I never made action films. I never made science fiction films. I never made, really, very complicated settings, because I had modest ambitions. I knew they would never trust me to have the budget to do something different, so my mind is more focused on things I know. So they were always mental adventures I wanted to approach and share. Working for cinema with no – not only no money, but also no ambition for money. I was happy and proud [to receive the honorary Oscar] because of that, that [the Academy] could understand what kind of work I have done over 60 years. I stayed faithful to the ideal of sharing emotion, impressions, and mostly because I have so much empathy for other people that I approach people who are not really spoken about. I have 65 years of work in my bag, and when I put the bag down, what comes out? It’s really the desire of finding links and relationships with different kinds of people. I never made a film about the bourgeoisie, about rich people. about nobility. My choices have been to show people that are, in a way, more common and see that each of them has something special and interesting, rare and beautiful. It’s my natural way of looking at people. I didn’t fight my instincts. And maybe that has been appreciated in the famous circle of Hollywood.“

Agnes Varda