By Ray Pride

Here’s The 2017 True/False Film Fest Lineup

Columbia, Missouri – The True/False Film Fest is proud to announce the list of 37 feature films included in its 2017 program. Each of these selections meet the traditional notions of nonfiction cinema head on, expanding the boundaries of the form and inviting audiences to be challenged, inspired, and entertained.

These films were selected from roughly 1,200 submissions. In keeping with the spirit of True/False, the festival seeks to highlight work that redefines the perception of nonfiction cinema. This year’s selection features outstanding examples of narrative-driven documentary as well as work that pushes the documentary form to new places.

Viktor Jakovleski’s ¡Brimstone & Glory! is a heartstopping pilgrimage to the fiery celebrations of Mexico’s National Pyrotechnic Festival; its screenings are presented by Spirit of ’76 Fireworks. Shevaun Mizrahi’s directorial debut, Distant Constellation, presented as a work-in-progress, transports us to an Istanbul retirement home, where we’re introduced to an unusual, magnetic cast of recurring characters. Florent Vassault’s Lindy Lou, Juror Number 2 is an unconventional road movie that follows a Mississippi woman as she tracks down her fellow jurors who sentenced a man to die.

2017 also brings a distinctive lineup of international titles, including films from Poland (Communion), Russia (Road Movie), Italy (The Challenge), Thailand (Railway Sleepers), Chile (The Grown-Ups, co-presented with the Miami Film Festival), Austria (Safari), Denmark (Venus), Spain (Donkeyote) and the People’s Republic of China (Still Tomorrow). Two Dutch films, Guido Hendrikx’s Stranger in Paradise (co-presented with CPH:DOX) and Petra Lataster-Czisch and Peter Lataster’s Miss Kiet’s Children, find inventive ways to explore Europe’s relationship with the refugee crisis.

This year’s True Vision Award recipient is the French filmmaker Claire Simon, who will present her newest work, The Graduation, along with past films from her illustrious career. Since the early 1990s, Simon has directed warm, perceptive portraits of people navigating systems, from a kindergarten playground to a catering company to a family planning clinic. The True Vision Award is presented by Restoration Eye Care.

Jonathan Olshefski’s Quest, previously announced as our True Life Fund Film, follows the indomitable, tight-knit Rainey family living in North Philadelphia. Quest, Christine’a, and PJ Rainey will be in attendance at the fest. The True Life Fund is sponsored by The Crossing and funded in part by the Bertha Foundation

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail (dir. Steve James; 2016)

The Sungs were an all-American immigrant success story – until they were targeted in the 2008 financial meltdown.

¡Brimstone & Glory! (dir. Viktor Jakovleski; 2017)

A heart-stopping, visually acrobatic pilgrimage to Mexico’s National Pyrotechnic Festival. Presented by Spirit of ’76 Fireworks.


Casting JonBenet (dir. Kitty Green; 2017)

The murder of JonBenet Ramsey is only the beginning of this mind-blowing cinematic puzzle box.


The Challenge (dir. Yuri Ancarani; 2016)

The 4,000-year-old tradition of falconry tethers this spellbinding trek through gold-plated excess in the Arabian Peninsula.


Communion (dir. Anna Zamecka; 2016)

Fourteen-year-old Ola becomes the default caretaker for her irreverent brother, Nikodem, in this exquisite film.


Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun? (dir. Travis Wilkerson; 2017)

This emotionally intense live performance uses the framework of a murder mystery to reckon with one family’s racist legacy.


Dina (dirs. Daniel Sickles, Antonio Santini; 2017)

Dina may have a “smorgasbord of issues,” but she’s resilient and in love.


Distant Constellation (dir. Shevaun Mizrahi; 2017)

Work in progress. Full of Tarkovskian atmospherics and featuring the inhabitants of a Turkish retirement home – pranksters, historians, artists and would-be Casanovas.


Donkeyote (dir. Chico Pereira; 2017)

Manolo’s dream is to walk the Trail of Tears with his trusted four-legged companion, Gorrión, but is he tilting at windmills?


The Force (dir. Peter Nicks; 2017)

Break through the blue wall of the Oakland Police Department as it struggles to recapture the trust of its community.


The Graduation (dir. Claire Simon; 2016)

Applicants to a prestigious French film school must run a gantlet of judges, as filmed by True Vision recipient Claire Simon. Presented by Restoration Eye Care.


The Grown-Ups (dir. Maite Alberdi; 2016)

A candy-colored romance featuring Anita and Andres, two adults navigating the intricacies of life with Down syndrome. Co-presented with the Miami Film Festival.


Gulîstan, Land of Roses (dir. Zaynê Akyol; 2016)

An all-female regiment of guerillas in the Kurdistan Workers’ Party prepares for war against Daesh.


HyperNormalisation (dir. Adam Curtis; 2016)

Adam Curtis (2015 True Vision recipient) unearths improbable connections between Jane Fonda workout tapes, Tech Bro utopianists, and the new regime’s fake news.


I Am Not Your Negro (dir. Raoul Peck; 2017)

James Baldwin’s eloquent writing powerfully connects the ’60s with today in this revelatory documentary.


Lindy Lou, Juror Number 2  (dir. Florent Vassault; 2017)

Lindy Lou sets out on an unconventional road trip across the South, tracking down her fellow jurors who sentenced a man to die.


Long Strange Trip (dir. Amir Bar-Lev; 2017)

Counterculture icons the Grateful Dead were an unlikely utopian experiment illuminated by five decades of recordings and photos.


LoveTrue (dir. Alma Har’el; 2016)

Elation and disappointment swell and break in three ethereal portraits of young love from Hawaii, Alaska, and New York City.


Manifesto (dir. Julian Rosenfelt; 2017)

Cate Blanchett shapeshifts from hobo to rocker to anchorwoman and beyond, audaciously proclaiming 50 versions of The Future.


Mimi (dir. Claire Simon; 2003)

Mimi Chiola has been waiting her whole life for an audience to dazzle with her star power. True Vision recipient Claire Simon’s camera captures a day in her life.


Miss Kiet’s Children (dirs. Petra Lataster-Czisch, Peter Lataster; 2016)

A beguiling, kid’s-eye view of a Dutch classroom run by an everyday hero.


Quest (dir. Jon Olshefski; 2017)

This epic labor of love vividly spotlights one Philadelphia family’s highs and lows over the course of a decade. True Life Fund Film, presented by The Crossing.


Railway Sleepers (dir. Sompot Chidgasornpongse; 2016)

Filmed on every active line of the Thai railway system, this humanistic gem flits between passengers, eavesdropping on their conversations.


Rat Film (dir. Theo Anthony; 2016)

An eccentric, era-hopping essay about a Baltimore that is born and reborn daily, presided over by some four-footed denizens.


Récréations (dir. Claire Simon, 1992)

Lord of the Flies on a French playground, as filmed by True Vision recipient Claire Simon.


The Road Movie (dir. Dmitrii Kalashnikov; 2016)

A raucous tour of a Russia whose dash-cam footage supplies both morbid marvels and insight into an off-the-rails culture.


Safari (dir. Ulrich Seidl; 2016)

A hunting we will go, as master Ulrich Seidl escorts us to Namibia, accompanied by a retro, Austrian family.


Secret Screening Argon

The mythic outlaw looms large in the American consciousness, but this story is more complex than mere heroes and villains.


Secret Screening Krypton

A hero’s journey transports us to where working-class desperation and determination meet.


Secret Screening Xenon

An outlandish figure crosses an ethical Rubicon, setting off a chain reaction.


Step (dir. Amanda Lipitz; 2017)

Senior year at a Baltimore charter school, and the irrepressible step dance team balances prepping for college with gunning for the all-city championship.


Still Tomorrow (dir. Jian “Travis” Fan; 2016)

When a feminist Chinese poet’s work goes viral, her new celebrity doesn’t sit well with her husband of 20 years.


Stranger in Paradise (dir. Guido Hendrikx; 2016)

Smug, conventional wisdom falls by the wayside as this masterful provocation implicates us all in the refugee crisis. Co-presented with CPH:DOX.


Strong Island (dir. Yance Ford; 2017)

With catharsis if not closure, director Ford investigates his brother’s murder and the repercussions that shook the family.


Venus (dirs. Lea Glob, Mette Carla Albrechtsen; 2016)

Intimate interviews with young women in Copenhagen, who bravely bare their sexual fantasies, fears, and more.


The War Show (dirs. Andreas Dalsgaard, Obaidah Zytoon; 2016)

A bohemian group of friends get caught up in the intoxicating energy of Arab Spring, risking everything for a new Syria.


Whose Streets? (dir. Sabaah Folayan; 2017)

This is what heroism looks like: a grassroots film about the citizens of Ferguson, Missouri, fighting for equal access to the American Dream.

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~ James Gunn

“BATTLE OF THE SEXES: Politics and queerness as spectacle/spectacle as politics and queerness. Pretty delightful, lovely, erotic. A-

“Not since EASY A and CABARET have I seen Emma Stone give a real sense of her range. Here, she has pathos and interiority and desire. I love the cinematography and the ways in which the images of the tennis icons are refracted and manipulated via various surfaces/mediators. Also, wild how a haircut is one of the most erotic scenes in cinema this year. Spine tinglingly tactile that feels refreshing. Proof that *cough* you don’t need to be ~graphic/explicit~ to be erotic *cough*. Also, it made me want to get into tennis. Watching it, at least.

“There are interesting touches and intimations as to the cinematic nature of sports, & unpacking the formal approach of broadcasting sports.Also, I was here for Sarah Silverman smoking. And also, hi Mickey Sumner!! It’s a really interesting film about the ways in which public spectacle is never apolitical, and how spectacle is prone to assignation.

“There’s this one other scene from BATTLE OF THE SEXES that I love, and it’s the one in the bar. You see Billie looking after Marilyn as she dances. Through a crowd. There’s a paradoxical closeness and distance between them. In the purple light, and the kitschy decor, everything is distorted. But Billie catches a glance and you can feel the nervous swell inside.”
~ Kyle Turner