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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“When Bay keeps these absurd plot-gears spinning, he’s displaying his skill as a slick, professional entertainer. But then there are the images of motion—I hesitate to say, of things in motion, because it’s not clear how many things there are in the movie, instead of mere digital simulations of things. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that there’s a car chase through London, seen from the level of tires, that could have gone on for an hour, um, tirelessly. What matters is that the defenestrated Cade saves himself by leaping from drone to drone in midair like a frog skipping among lotus pads; that he and Vivian slide along the colossal, polished expanses of sharply tilting age-old fields of metal like luge Olympians. What matters is that, when this heroic duo find themselves thrust out into the void of inner space from a collapsing planet, it has a terrifyingly vast emptiness that Bay doesn’t dare hold for more than an instant lest he become the nightmare-master. What matters is that the enormous thing hurtling toward Earth is composed in a fanatical detail that would repay slow-motion viewing with near-geological patience. Bay has an authentic sense of the gigantic; beside the playful enormity of his Transformerized universe, the ostensibly heroic dimensions of Ridley Scott’s and Christopher Nolan’s massive visions seem like petulant vanities.”
~ Michael Bay Gives Richard Brody A Tingle

How do you see film evolving in this age of Netflix?

I thought the swing would be quicker and more violent. There have been two landmark moments in the history of French film. First in 1946, with the creation of the CNC under the aegis of Malraux. He saved French cinema by establishing the advance on receipts and support fund mechanisms. We’re all children of this political invention. Americans think that the State gives money to French films, but they’re wrong. Through this system, films fund themselves!

The other great turning point came by the hand of Jack Lang in the 1980s, after the creation of Canal+. While television was getting ready to become the nemesis of film, he created the decoder, and a specific broadcasting space between film and television, using new investments for film. That once again saved French film.

These political decisions are important. We’re once again facing big change. If our political masters don’t take control of the situation and new stakeholders like Netflix, Google and Amazon, we’re headed for disaster. We need to create obligations for Internet service providers. They can’t always be against film. They used to allow piracy, but now that they’ve become producers themselves, they’re starting to see things in a different light. This is a moment of transition, a strong political act needs to be put forward. And it can’t just be at national level, it has to happen at European level.

Filmmaker Cédric Klapisch