Beer and Pavement


Posted in Film, Review by SM on October 22, 2014
Syna So Pro busks before the first Midwest screening of 'Citizenfour'.

Syna So Pro busks before the first Midwest screening of ‘Citizenfour’.

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to properly express how much True/False means to us in terms of providing that one yearly jolt of intellectualism, creativity, and life we need at the end of every winter. Really, it’s not just that. This is a hard place in which to live. True/False makes it bearable for one long weekend every year.

However, this past year brought us the birth of our son, Theo. He’s our True/False baby, born on March 1st. The doc fest didn’t happen for us. Sure, it went on, but it didn’t happen for us. Of course, we could have gone to the Boone Dawdle for the first time, but the film this year didn’t interest us enough to bike 20 miles in the heat. Maybe next year?

So, we are long overdue for our True/False fix, to put it lightly.

That fix was supplied in the form of Laura Poitras’ Citizenfour, the documentation of Edward Snowden’s coming out as an NSA whistleblower. This was an intense way to get back into the True/False groove as the fest put together a one-time (well two times, actually) screening of the highly anticipated film.

Poitras is a bit of a legend in T/F lore. She won the fest’s True Vision award in 2010 given to “a filmmaker (or filmmaking team) whose work shows a dedication to the creative advancement of the art of nonfiction filmmaking.” Her arguably most popular film at the fest was The Oath in which Poitras hangs out with a cab driver who was once Osam bin Laden’s bodyguard. The cab driver’s life is contrasted with his brother-in-law’s who finds himself detained in Guantanamo Bay. It’s even more intense than it sounds. Poitras also made a film about gentrification in my old home of Columbus, OH. It’s very different from her recent works, but totally a good watch, especially if you keep in-mind that this was her first film.

Citizenfour was not exactly what I expected. I honestly did not read up on it except to realize that it was about Edward Snowden in some way. Like many documentaries, I assumed it was a collection of interviews and pieces of a puzzle put together in order to recreate the events leading up to Snowden’s whistleblowing, making us all acutely aware as to how our government invades our privacy on the daily. I also caught that this was the third in a trilogy including The Oath and 2006’s My Country, My Country. However, what I was not prepared for was the amount of access Poitras had in documenting Snowden’s story.

Usually when a documentary covers a story, it comes in after the fact. There are interviews with people about what they remember. There’s archival footage or recreations. Rarely is a documentary documenting major, historical events in real time. Citizenfour does this, however. Poitras is there, in the room when Snowden is spilling the beans on how the NSA basically watches and listens to every electronic transmission we make. She follows as Snowden’s identity is revealed and he has to make a mad dash for a friendly embassy and eventually Russia. Poitras is only physically in the room with Snowden while he stays in a Hong Kong hotel for interviews with Glenn Greenwald over the course of a week+. Then, as the chase is on, she documents the fallout for various players in the game to uncover how our government watches and collects data on our every move. She communicates now and again with Snowden until she finally provides evidence of his new life in Russia.

What’s interesting is how intimate Poitras is able to get with Snowden without being intrusive. The privacy of his moment is completely documented by Poitras’ camera. It would be ironic had Snowden not asked her to be there, but he did ask her. The difference between Poitras and the NSA is that Poitras was asked to be there and to document the whole thing.

The story which evolves is really quite breathtaking. No narrative is forced. All the drama is real and that might be the scariest part. Poitras typically crafts narrative with a heavy hand. This isn’t a knock. She’s good at telling stories. With Citizenfour, you get the sense that she lets this story tell itself. She’s just there to make sure it gets to an audience.

If Citizenfour screens in your town, go see it. Several of Poitras’ films end up on PBS. So, you might be able to see it there. And don’t just watch it to get informed about the NSA. Sure, there’s that part, but it pales in comparison to the story told. Watch it for the story and do your research on the NSA.

Now I feel like I’m on some sort of list.

Indie-Craft Interview #7: Paul Sturtz

Posted in Indie-Craft, Interview by SM on May 7, 2012

Paul Sturtz is one-half the brain power (not counting hundreds of volunteers and a handful of employees) behind the establishment and planning for the Ragtag Cinema and the True/False Film Fest. He, al0ng with fellow founder David Wilson, have brought high-brow film to the unlikeliest of places, AKA the middle of Missouri. Additonally, Paul has dabbled in his own filmaking projects as well as a short stint as a city councilman here in Columbia. Like many of the featured individuals in this series, Paul has his hands in many projects that represent the indie-craft ethic well.

Note: Paul didn’t have a picture for me to use. He asked me to have my child draw his portrait. As is my daughter’s prerogative, she turned down the opportunity to draw Paul’s portrait. So I did the next best thing and drew Paul using Microsoft paint. 

Artist rendition of Paul Sturtz’s face.

1. Describe your craft(s).
Helping to organize T/F involves the craft of saying no to a lot of things. Film festivals tend to be self-important, pretentious, empty affairs that are all about congratulating each other about how wonderful everyone is. Based in a small, Midwestern city, we’ve been able to develop our own culture without paying too much attention to what’s “normal.” The atmosphere of Columbia fuels this kind of can-do, grassroots ethos because people here aren’t as cynical about a glut of choices. And the documentary world tends to keep our feet on the ground. Also, our populist, iconoclastic, and sometimes misanthropic tendencies have made us steer clear of some  essential trappings such as award ceremonies, red carpet, and stars.

2. What’s the importance or benefit of remaining indie?
I don’t really know what “indie” means anymore. We said this years ago, but we’re pathetically dependent on all sorts of people and institutions. If we can get folks to buy into our vision of the festival, then we’re all for them coming on board as sponsors and partners. Of course, we’d have to think twice about burnishing the reputation of companies like Exxon/Mobil and WalMart and most multi-national corporations that have more allegiance to shareholders than the common good.

3. How does your craft contribute to society?
We provide a platform for nonfiction filmmakers that has integrity. And we demonstrate that a small town can do big things and have fun at the same time.

4. What other indie-craft products inspire you?
I am really inspired by food trucks that have become a sensation in the last few years. I like that they open up a sense of possibility in the city. There have been loads of places that have inspired me such as the Middle East Restaurant in Cambridge, the X-Ray Cafe in Portland, Oregon (formerly the UFO), the Space Gallery in Portland, Maine and the old Red Vic in San Francisco. I really admire the work that the Rabid Hands collective is doing. I like the Japanese architect Terunobu Fujimori, Sleeping Bear Dunes, Buster Keaton, “Eagle Rock Rag” by Leadbelly, “Obeah Man” by Exuma, SunRay tempeh, Luna & Larry’s coconut cream, Polina Malikin’s raw sauerkraut. I like the idea of micro-distilleries and butteries. I am playing this song by Brigitte Fontaine constantly.  “My Uncle Used to Love Me But She Died” by Roger Miller is the greatest song ever. And my son Leo’s drawings the last two weeks have been amazing.

5. What is your dream of success?
To live more and more in an actively creative way. To make silly things just for myself while still working on behalf of the world.

Paul, like previous Indie-Craft subjects, is from Columbia, MO but has a national, even international reach. Check out the other interviews in the series and stay tuned for more.

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True/False Music Review

Posted in Live, Review by SM on March 9, 2012

Here is the post I published yesterday at the CoMo Collective. It covers the bands I saw and a couple I didn’t see much of. As you will see, True/False is more of a cultural experience than just a documentary film festival. That may be why we all love it so much…

Why Are We Building Such a Big Ship? via Benjamin Gross

As promised, here’s a complete rundown of the bands I was able to take in throughout True/False weekend. This year’s lineup was maybe the strongest I’ve seen. Between buskers warming up crowds, filling our streets with music, and rocking showcases around town, this fest became almost as much about the music as it did the films.

As a recap, I’m reposting my take on Wednesday’s Eastside Showcase. Scroll down if you’ve read it before…

Eastside Showcase

This is the unofficial official start of the fest and it’s hard to believe that any showcase will outdo the one at Eastside Tavern last night. Three bands – two local, one from Milwaukee – whipped the crowd into a pretty good frenzy for Wednesday.

Enemy Airship opened the night and one could say the entire festival.If I wanted to hear Broken Social Scene, I’d probably watch them on Pitchfork TV, but this was a close enough facsimile. I certainly don’t mean that in negative way. The band is fun, even danceable, especially as compared to their previous incarnation, Nonreturner. The set was topped off with a particularly earnest cover of New Order’s “Age of Consent”. It’s too bad no one could hear the keyboards.

Another local, Hott Lunch, played second. I had heard a lot of good things and the band did not disappoint. From punk to classic rock, this band was all over the place aggression, hitting all the right influences. I’d like to hear them focus in on one thing, but they do so many so well. Maybe that’s not so bad. Either way, it was an enjoyable set.

The closers were Catacombz. With a light show few have witnessed in Eastside, the band beat the audience into submission and told them to dance without directly telling the so, yet they obeyed. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a band come in and just move the entire crowd into convulsions.

Jerusalem & The Starbaskets via Benjamin Gross

Mojo’s Showcase (Bassdrum of Death, Jerusalem and the Starbaskets, and Ming Donkey One-Man Band)

Regretfully, I missed Ming Donkey One-Man Band due to a film. This became apparent to me as I entered Mojo’s to find it buzzing. It seemed that buzz was about the dirty heaps of new age blues that was being thrust upon the crowd and would continue through the night.

Jerusalem and the Starbaskets, once of CoMo, played next. Besides frontman Jeremy Freeze’s occasional turn as a busker and drummer Kim Sherman’s turns at V/H/S Q&A’s, the band made a triumphant return to CoMo (as is their usual) with a roaring set of dirges and blues psychedelia. Interestingly, the band’s sound was filled out with the addition of John Garland on guitar. The set primarily featured material from their well-received Dost, a record you should own.

Bass Drum of Death via Benjamin Gross

Bass Drum of Death is another Fat Possum band that sounds as if they’re from another era. They looked and sounded a ton like 1991-era Seattle, but sounded closer to No Age than Nirvana. This topped off what was an impressive roster for the evening. I’m not sure I’ve seen a T/F showcase demonstrate as much firepower as this crew showed… Well, until the next night.

Mojo’s A-Go-Go (Believers, Why Are We Building Such a Big Ship?, Dark Dark Dark and Cassie Morgan)

Once again, I regretfully missed a Mojo’s opener. St. Louis duo Cassie Morgan and the Lonely Pine played what must have been a distant and haunting set of hushed melodies. Although described as folk, I’d place her stylings closer to something sleepier, with a bit of twang for good measure. I only know this because I luckily caught her set as a busker in the Blue Note. Still, I imagine her set fit nicely with the bands to follow.

Dark Dark Dark came on next. Gypsies with powerful female lead vocals rarely go wrong. Don’t misunderstand me, this is not Beirut with Sharon Van Etten. No, this is a rock band that understands a good pop song, something that would linger through the evening.

At this point, it was clear that the evening was building toward something. However, it felt as if we needed a way to traverse the gap between Cassie Morgan’s brand of folk and Dark Dark Dark’s gypsie spiel. A bridge would work, but a boat or ship would be better. Why Are We Building Such a Big Ship? made their way on stage and increased the number of accordions and French horns by at least one apiece.

Believers via Benjamin Gross

The bridge or ship or whatever worked as the crowd was pretty amped for the Believers set. Believers just puts on a consistently great show and it doesn’t hurt that the songs are so good and danceable. For once, all the percussion was in the back of the stage as compared to the center, but it didn’t take away the percussive nature of the band by any means. The buzz that started the previous night lasted all the way through Believers’ set. If for no other reason, Believers should stay together just to play T/F every year. Either way, they will forever be linked to the fest for me as it just isn’t complete without a Believers show.

Buskers a-Busking

I remember Nature Walk busking before, but I don’t remember them being as engaging as they were this year. I got vibes from Violent Femmes and One Foot in the Grave-era Beck. Good, fun rock music to get us ready for the nonfiction about to be thrown our way.

The Toughcats come all the way from Maine every year. It seems there’s a contingent that makes the trek every year and the  Touchcats are part of that crew. To fully enjoy the Toughcats’s set, one has to pay particular attention to the drummer who works as hard and as enthusiastically as any drummer I’ve ever seen.

Run On Sentence featured the filmmaker of Gasland, a popular T/F entry and near-Oscar winner. Beyond that, Run On Sentence stands on their own, recalling a bit of Clem Snide. They certainly kept a large audience in the spacious Missouri Theater engaged with the energy they brought from Portland.

Bramble actually played my daughter’s preschool before they ever played the T/F box office, various street corners, or several film venues. They are fast becoming a favorite at the fest. Everybody tends to enjoy their special brand of roots rock, especially three-year-olds.

Another roots rock band to busk some films was Wine Teeth. However, where Bramble reminded me more of Fleet Foxes (musically), Wine Teeth are certainly big Elliott Smith fans, providing a bit of edge to their set.

The hit of the fest may have been Les Trois Coups. The four Frenchmen enchanted audiences, inspiring many to dance and others to fall under their gypsie charms. From what I heard and saw, I don’t think the boys ever stopped playing their songs and performing skits with a combination of French and bits of broken English. The boys played for a school in St. Louis and hit the streets as soon as they made it to CoMo, and were seen at showcases and in the basement of at least one house party at 3:30 in the morning. I’m not sure they ever slept as they had to catch a flight early Sunday morning.

It’s nice see some great bands return year after year. Pearl and the Beard can both fill any venue with their powerful voices while maintaining an uncanny ability to rely on subtlety to not overwhelm with every song. This has really been one of the better busker acts to make it to T/F over the years and I hope they keep coming back.

Prahlad is actually a folklore professor at the university. He plays his brand of folk on mbira and slit drum, traditional African instruments. The resulting music is calming yet stimulating and was a nice break from the hustle and bustle of the fest.

Cindy Woolf told a story that went with a song that was about distilling moonshine. That may be all you need to know. This is country as it’s meant to be sung and performed. Sad, slow, and soothing.

There were others to play music last weekend, but this was what I was able to see/hear among the 15 or so films I was able to see. Still, it was possibly the strongest lineup the fest has featured since I’ve been attending. Music coordinators Billy Schuh and Amanda Rainey really deserve a ton of credit for putting together this year’s group of buskers and showcasers. For the complete list of musicians, including many of the better ones I failed to mention here, check T/F’s website while it’s still up.

Dubb Nubb Interview (Director’s Cut)

Posted in Interview, Records by SM on March 8, 2012

Just like yesterday’s interview with Believers, I submitted a rather long interview for the T/F blog that needed editing. This one is with Dubb Nubb. You can read the edited version here or scroll down and read my director’s cut below. For more information on Dubb Nubb, go to their Facebook page and/or their Bandcamp space where they offer many lovely recordings for your enjoyment.

Give us your elevator spiel about Dubb Nubb.

Deelia – We’re an indie folk band and we’re a folk band. And we’re guitar, ukulele, one drum, and tamborine. And we do harmonies and we’ve been together since we were about 16/15. And Amanda joined the band in the summer. And we go on little tours and stuff all the time. We just put out like our third or fourth release.

Hannah – Some people would like to say that we’re like indie folk. And some people say we’re freak folk. I think it’s because it’s hard to categorize what our genre is. It’s kind of a mixture of lots of different stuff. Because we grew up listening to Bob Dylan, stuff like that. That kind of folk. Right now we’re listening to Fleet Foxes and that other kind of folk and combining that together.

I read somewhere that you started writing songs at 15. I suspect that you grew up in a musical household. What was that like? What kinds of experiences did you have growing up that made you give songwriting and performing a try? What kind of music was playing in your home?

Delia – Well, Hannah started playing guitar when she was ten. Our dad plays guitar and he taught her how. We always grew up listening to music. My parents blaring music on the stereo like every morning is how we woke up.

Hannah – A very artsy, musical family.

Amanda – And they took us to see a lot of shows. We would go to concerts in our pajamas, like on weekends, I don’t know, music festivals and stuff like that. Going to shows was such a part of our family.

What are your biggest influences currently? What are you listening to? What makes you think “oh, that sounds like us” or “that’s what we want to do”?

Delia – I think one of the major influences we had was this band called First Aid Kit. They put out a cover a Fleet Foxes song. They have these harmonies…they put out an EP not too long ago. They’re pretty much our age, too. So, we were really inspired by them in the beginning.

Hannah – I’ll say what is really inspirational is going to shows to see bands perform live. Like Shenandoah Davis and we saw…oh, what’s that band we saw when we were like 16? [turning to Delia] …uh, if you were still in love, why are you asleep?

Delia – Uh…

Amanda – Like ladies…

Hannah – Yeah like ladies we’ve seen live…

[The sisters fumble a bit, trying to recall bands they’ve enjoyed.]

So, just any live music or do you prefer the harmonies or a certain sound or a certain thing you’re drawn to?

Delia – I mean, we like a lot of different kinds of music. We listen to electronic music and just general indie people, like on Pitchfork or whatever. That kind of stuff too. So, we listen to a lot of different kinds of music. So, our sound is unique like oh, this is a folk song…there’s a lot of different elements…

Amanda – Do you just sit down and write a song and you want it to sound like this?

Delia – Not always, but sometimes if I have a really weird inspiration, I want to use this element in there. I know other people who are in bands who are like “I want to write a song that sounds like this band.” And I think that is so silly.

Well, let’s talk about the songwriting process a little bit. Do one of you come to the other one with an idea? Do you hear something…obviously, you don’t want to emulate it, but maybe something gives you and idea…Do you say “let’s sit down and write a song?”

Delia – Our songwriting process has changed a little bit now that we don’t live in the same house. Basically, what happens a lot of the time is that I will write a song by myself and it will be kind of an unfinished song. We’ll come together and we’ll finish it together, putting out all the parts for all the instruments.

Amanda – Don’t you write them as poems first a lot of times?

Delia – I used to, in the past, I would just write lyrics, but lately I’ve been having the melody in my head while I write.

[turning to Hannah] So, where do you fill in?

Hannah – She’ll sing it to me. Basically, she’ll sing me the song and I’ll make up chord progressions, write a bridge, and write a chorus.

[our food arrives]

There’s a lot of naïveté to your aesthetic and energy, in a good way of course. It reminds me of Beat Happening and even some of the Moldy Peaches stuff. However, you write some pretty heady, mature songs with some complex arrangements and lyrics that show you to be well beyond your years. How did you get to that point? Were there some experiences or just years of work?

Delia – One of our most intense songs, “Soldier”, is like…People get really emotional with that song. But the song is about… I wrote it when I was sixteen… It’s about my high school boyfriend going to bed too early… It’s about my high school boyfriend. We broke up and it’s about that. It’s just this really immature subject matter, but I made it into this really intense, crazy song, right? … Sometimes when you’re really upset, you write the best songs, of course.

Amanda – Do you set out to write a song with a really good metaphor or do you just write lyrics as they come out?

Delia – I think it was how I was feeling, you know? I really felt that way at the time. And looking back that was really dumb. I mean, that guy was…whatever.

You’re writing a lot of poetry…

Delia – I’ve always been a writer. I love creative writing. I always have. When I was in elementary school, that was my jam. I’m sort of in the creative writing program at Mizzou right now. That’s always been an interest of mine. I guess that plays into when I want to write a song. … It’s hard to be like “How did you write that?” I just sat down and … That was one of the quickest songs I ever wrote. Some songs take me forever and that one I just wrote it in a matter of hours. That’s like the best songs sometimes.

Sometimes immediacy…when you don’t play with something too much, it comes out way stronger, way more honest. Hannah, do you have anything to add to that?

Hannah – I haven’t written too many of the songs, but what I’ve noticed with Delia is she’ll have an idea. “Oh, I want to write a song inspired by this line of lyrics or inspired by this thing that happened to me. What’s most inspirational, I think, is when we go on tour and our different experiences outside of our everyday lives are really inspirational.

Even though you haven’t written as many of the songs yourself, you’re obviously involved in the structure piece of it as primarily the guitarist…I guess, that’s the piece you bring to it. Even the structures of the songs are pretty complex. It would be very easy to write some simple ditties or something, but you write some pretty complex songs. Is that from your training early on?

Hannah – I learned on classical guitar and I really enjoyed it. What I really liked about it was dynamics…What I really like is when a song is moving forward into a different idea musically. I try to make it sound interesting and that…I mean, you should listen to the lyrics, but you should listen to the music too.

Well, a great band…that works. You have to have all those components. Then, you bring in your sister to play percussion. So, when did you (Amanda) come in?

Amanda – I joined the band in May, because we were going to do a little tour after they graduated from high school.

Hannah – You kinda joined our recording in March.

Delia – That’s true.

Amanda – I did play percussion on some of their recordings, but that was like sitting at a full drum set. You know, playing some parts. And so, when we were trying to figure out what to do for this tour, I had some drums in my parents’ basement…but I didn’t want to really pack a whole drum set…So, I just found this drum my dad had, an old banjo and it broke. He had taken it apart and used it as a drum. I just started playing it and it sounded cool. … One thing that I like about adding the percussion in is that it kind of… [turning toward her sisters] You guys are amazing at what you do, the dynamics and stuff, but they were really not that good at keeping a steady tempo [laughing].

Hannah – I am like the queen of rushing. I just want to go faster. It’s really bad.

Amanda – So, I feel good about keeping them on tempo.

Delia – It’s good to have that heartbeat of the song. It really adds a lot of texture. I think before, it didn’t sound as…I think it can be more epic now.

Amanda – And it’s really simple. I don’t do anything very complicated at all.
[I then proceed to tell the girls how Pavement added Bob Nastanovich to the lineup just to help Gary Young keep the beat.]

Amanda – I was booking shows for them, coordinating their recording, and merch and all that for three years. It’s been awesome to actually play with them as well. Not just bossing them around.

You boss them around?

Amanda – Sorry, was I really bossy?

Hannah – You’re still bossy.

Delia – But it’s okay, because you’re the boss!

One thing that I noticed in a lot of the songs is that there are a lot of things about places, distance, and travel. There was the whole project you did – It Feels Like Home – seems to be running throughout your material… Is travel a part of your lives? Have you had a lot of people come in and out of your lives? Where does that come from?

Delia – I think the original thing it came from is that Amanda used to live in Jackson, Mississippi for like three years. We would always go down there with our parents and drive eight hours to visit her. We go down there and do Dubb Nubb stuff there a lot of the time. That trip in itself inspired some of our songs… Ever since we did all that Jackson stuff, people really liked us down there… We decided we should go other places, travel other places and see how people like it… It all started in Jackson, Mississippi.

Amanda – We didn’t really go on really far-reaching family vacations.

Hannah – Yeah, we never really went on family vacations. So, when we went to Jackson or to Nashville, it was like kind of a big deal for us.

Amanda – Well, also, like with places, these people…

Hannah – We experienced different cultures and kind of…

Delia – …more unique people that really impact you in a short amount of time and you never really see them again.

Amanda – And people are really connected to the places they live… So, if you write a song about that place, that’s gonna…

Delia – It’s like a memory.

Hannah – Like Tennessee Mountains. The St. Louis song… That’s one…

Amanda – But if you’re in Mississippi, and you say you wrote this song the last time I came to Mississippi and it has the word “Mississippi” in it, they’re gonna go crazy.

Delia – We played “Tennessee Mountains” in Tennessee… it was really fun.

Amanda – And that’s like way better than being at a show and be like “I know everybody has had a terrible breakup. This is a song about a terrible breakup. Yay!” It’s just happier. It’s a song about how much I love St. Louis.

So, do you consider yourselves full transplants or are you still St. Louis people?

Delia – It’s hard. I mean, we (she and Hannah) just came here in August… It’s hard to be like “Oh, we’re a band from Columbia!” I usually don’t say that. I usually say that we’re from Columbia but we’re a St. Louis band. I still feel connected to the St. Louis music scene. A couple of bands came from St. Louis for our show. We played the Blue Fugue last week. It was just so much fun and we’ve known those bands for a couple of years. We used to play shows with them on Cherokee Street… It’s hard to stray away from St. Louis.

You all had a lot of success there. Good press, you got to play Lou Fest. On top of that, there was all the touring, you’ve had a couple of opening gigs…

[our waiter interrupts for coffee refills]

So, you’ve done all these really cool things, especially in the last year… True/False, the Daytrotter session – which is a pretty big deal… What’s your personal highlights from the last year because a lot’s happened?

Delia – I would say the Daytrotter was the big… Oh my gosh, I can’t believe this is happening because we have always been fans of Daytrotter since we were very young… I think Lou Fest was really fun.

Hannah – Playing in Nashville…

Delia – …all the tours we went on this year were great! They all went really, really well.

Amanda – Yeah, this past tour we went around the state of Missouri and that was just really awesome. All the shows were really different, but they were all successful. Which is cool to say “We’re from Missouri and we’re only playing shows in Missouri.” … We played in Cape Girardeau and not a lot of bands stop through and play Cape Girardeau.

Delia – “You guys will have to come back…”

Amanda – It was cool to know that you don’t have to go very far to go on tour, get fans, and have a good time.

Well, it has been a knock on bands that are really great, but then they sort of fizzle out because they never leave town. So, they never get any exposure outside. There’s no way they can keep it going… Do you all have dreams and goals of something bigger? Not that there’s anything wrong with this, but…

Hannah – I think one of my dreams is to tour with a band that’s well-known. And that would just be really fun and get lots of exposure and learn from them.

Delia – Yeah, that would be the next step, definitely. We’re trying this summer.. We’re going to try to devote the summer to touring around. We’re playing a tour around working at rock ‘n roll girls camps. We’re going to work at one in Oakland, CA. So, we’ll tour around there…

Amanda – I’m excited for that.

Maybe you could start a rock ‘n roll camp for girls here?

Amanda – Seriously. That’s not an out of the question dream, because there are these rock ‘n roll camps for girls all over the country. Even in smaller places, like Murphysburg, Tennessee has one…. but there isn’t one in Missouri.


Amanda – Yet! Exactly! So. we;re going to hopefully go to two different ones and be counselors and spend a week… And they do shows during lunch time. They have girl bands come play shows…

Delia – Our other dream is to play SXSW. We were trying to get on that recently, but we’re sorta not sure about it.

Amanda – It kind of sucks because of the timing… We’ll see. We’re still trying to get some kind of show.

But you are playing True/False again…

Delia – …which is awesome.

So, what do you enjoy about doing True/False?

Hannah – It’s so fun because… It’s fun to have an audience and play for people, but they didn’t come to hear us play. It’s kind of fun to see people’s reactions. People come up to tell us good job and it’s really rewarding…

Amanda – Yeah, because they didn’t come to see the music even… It’s not like they came to a show and never heard of the opening band. They came to see the movie…

Delia – So, sometimes we play the little church venue and everyone was just so into it. It was just so much fun. The acoustics were so good. We could sing really loud. It was awesome and we got to see a really good film. It was just a lot of fun. I think Columbia is a lot of fun at that time. Last year was so fun. Pearl and the Beard played…

Amanda – That was really cool to meet them…

Delia – Yeah, now they’re our friends…

Amanda – …and we opened for them.

Do you have plans to do more than just do your sets or do you try to go to parties, or see other films?

Hannah – I want to go to some of the shows, definitely. Maybe all of them. The other bands sound so cool. And I’ll definitely go to movies.

Delia – We didn’t get into some of the parties last year because we weren’t 21. That was a problem, I remember.

Amanda – Yeah, you’re still not 21. [laughs]

Hannah – I got a fake ID… just kidding.

Delia – On tour, we got kicked out of a bar we played at, because they were scared that the police would find out that we weren’t 21.

Amanda – And it was good that we got kicked out, because by that point there were only creepy dudes in there that were talking to us. So, we were really happy to leave.

Delia – Yeah, that’s cool…

Amanda – That was an insane tour…at an absinthe bar…

Absinthe bar? Where was that?

Amanda – St. Joseph… What was it called? [to her sisters]

Delia & Hannah – Cafe Acoustic!

Amanda – They were very nice.

Delia – Yeah, they were great.

Amanda – They kicked us out really nicely.

Well, they’re drinking absinthe…

Amanda – Right.

What do you have in store? You talked about SXSW, the summer camp thing, True/False of course… Anything else you have plans for?

Delia – We’re going to try to do a music video.

Hannah – Those are really successful… Our last one…

Delia – We did a little, tiny video of us just playing in the woods and people really liked it. We’ve never done like a full-scale video before. The last music video we put out was when we were sophomores in high school. A friend filmed us playing around in the park…

Amanda – It’s very cute.

Delia – Anyway, we have a friend who makes films and he said he would make a film for us. And we were thinking of putting out an EP because we have a lot of new stuff, but we’re not sure we’re going to record it. Those are two things we have in mind.

Last thing… Tell me something you love about each of your sisters.


Hannah – I love that we can play music together and have fun together. And not just hang out and be sisters, but hang out and be friends.

[sighs, laughs]

Amanda – My sisters are the funniest people that I know. And we have a funny, weird sister language. I like that…. [laughs] And they laugh at my jokes. Well, Delia laughs at my jokes. Hannah tells me that they’re bad. And that’s funny too.

Delia – We have so much fun going on tour for a week and half. We didn’t fight the whole time. I feel like a lot of bands fight on tour, but we had fun and made up weird jokes. It was really great. We do have fun having adventures with each other. We’re not just a band. We hang out and do stuff with each other on the weekends and stuff. It just a bond that not a lot of people have with their siblings. It’s really special.


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Believers Interview (Director’s Cut)

Posted in Interview, Records by SM on March 7, 2012

Photo by Benjamin Gross

Most blogs keep the content short and to the point. So, it was no surprise when my contributions were cut for the True/False blog. There are no hard feelings. That said, I’m posting the extended version of the interview below. You can read the edited version here in order to see what a real editor can do with my ramblings. Especially notice the title. Andrew is a titling genius.

Zac: As brothers growing up together, did you ever foresee something like Believers happening? What were your previous experiences playing in bands together (if there were any)?

Wesley Powell: When we were youngsters, the thought of playing music together didn’t traverse either of our minds, the age gap of four years felt more significant when i was sixteen and tyler twenty. We both made music individually, tyler more electronic and myself in my high school band called ‘Say Panther.’ Making music seemed the most fitting future for me since playing in high school and that sentiment came for tyler in college, but we only started to tinker together once i got to school in Columbia and he was still living there. We still have a few of those weekend-basement-recording tapes filed under ‘The 1960’s.’ After a minute of chewing on the idea of collaborating and overcoming the burden of pragmatism, we finally moved down to Austin three years ago to pursue that end. That was when we decided to make this our reason to be, for the time being.

Z: I first became familiar with your work at last year’s True/False Film Fest. Leah Cheaney, then one of the music coordinators for the fest, went on and on about the music you put together for the bumpers and that your band was set to tear the house down at the “Super Secret Party”. She was right on both counts. Can you talk about how that all came to pass and how that T/F project led to Believers?

WP: The project for the bumpers was isolated from Believers. [brother] Tyler [Powell] and I had collaborated with [cinematographer] Andrew Palermo to make the music for his first short film a few months prior and he decided to tag team once again for his work on the bumpers. As far as Believers goes, a few months before True/False, tyler and I realized we had gotten into the same funk as we did in Austin. Tyler had left Brooklyn and I had left school Holland to once again pursue musical ends. We had spent another year [this time back in the heartland] writing and scratch recording, but again lacked a band to bring the songs into the live realm.

So, to light a fire under our collective tush, we talked to [then-T/F music coordinator] Kim Sherman about setting us up with a show. Without a band and only some demo recordings to plea our worth. She graciously obliged. With a month and a half to prepare, we joined forces with Travis [Boots], Taylor [Bacon] and Pete [Hansen] and began pulling songs from our cache and making them into more than just bits and pieces. It somehow came together. Then Ron Rottinghaus [owner of Uprise Bakery/Bar] kindly let us play our first first show at Uprise where 3/5ths of us work, it was like a warm up/confidence booster for our first more public show. Certainly one of the more tender evenings of my life, playing in front of our whole community of friends at my second home. A few days later we played at two in the morning during that party. A blast. And here we are, our anniversary just a few days away.

Z: Speaking of those T/F bumpers, the soundtrack you put together was absolutely haunting and perfectly cinematic. Have you had other experiences with film and/or film scores that informed this work? What was the process like putting that music together?

WP: Like I mentioned, before working on the bumpers with Andrew Palermo, Tyler and I had made the music for his short film ‘A Face Fixed.’ it was a really enjoyable and fruitful process, quite a different approach to creating music. A soundtrack is more functional in that you need to create something that fits parameters set out by the film itself, its editing, aesthetic, vibe, and so on; all things outside of ones self. And there is no consideration of how the music will be achieved live, its all recording and production. The two of us hope to do more of it in the future, with one project coming up working with our friend [filmmaker] Polina Malikin on her short film.

Z: For those who haven’t had the pleasure, a Believers live set is a soulful, festive experience where the audience is taken over by the moment, moved to dance. What goes into a Believers set to make that happen or has it come about organically? Is it that much fun for you as well?

WP: I suppose it just so happens to happen as such. Which is nice. And most of the time it’s a real treat for us as well, getting all shaky and sweaty, wibbly wobbly. All this assuming equipment doesn’t bum out or something of the sort.

Z: A striking feature of your live sets is that you have two percussionists at the center of the stage while the rest of the band fills the edges with guitars, samples, vocals, and bass. What’s the reasoning behind that setup? Is it just a space issue or is there a purpose for such a configuration?

WP: For much of what we play live, the rhythm section carries us. Taylor and Pete are the metronomic backbone, so it makes sense to have us all focus on them. And we like to have the two of them close together so they can feed off of one another’s energy, and the rest of us can feed off that. Some kind of parasitic vibe feast. Ridiculous. Anyway, personally, these days I enjoy watch the drummers in bands more than anything, their mechanical rigor, their constance, and so on. So it’s nice to have it as a focus in our band as well.

Z: This past december, you embarked on what turned out to be a successful Kickstarter campaign to release your debut EP. How did the idea come about to go with this sort of fundraiser? How do you feel about all the support you’ve received?

WP: All of us living under the poverty line, we hoped to figure out a way to soften the blow of mastering and pressing a record ourselves. We figured setting up a pre-order was a good way of going about it, the potential of receiving a little help up front. We had had friends who were enabled to embark on and achieve their own artistic endeavors thanks to kickstarter, so we chose to follow in suit. We were floored at the generosity we received. It’s astounding how our friends have helped make this happen and shown their support of what we do. They helped overcome the silly burden of finance.

Z: Describe the writing and recording process for that EP. Were these just songs you developed for your live shows or had you planned to record all along?

WP: A bit of both. The songs on our little record had existed somewhere on a tape or hard drive [some for nearly three years, on that perpetual back burner], but were only truly realized with the band. Being able to hear everything in person, in reality with Travis, Taylor and Pete brought out a better understanding of some of the songs. This took some of them in fairly different directions.

Since we went about the whole process with a DIY outlook, recording and mixing turned out to more of an ordeal than expected. Tough stuff for amateurs, figuring out microphone choice and arrangements paired with varying compressions, reverbs, room sound, and all that jazz. We’ve been recording for some years, but never have we had to consider laying down something that will end up on vinyl and be shared more widely.
This was certainly a trying endeavor that tested our patience, took months longer than expected and drove us all a bit mad. Especially the task of finding the time to record and mix in between work and everything else. But, it was a undoubtedly good experience and we learned quite a bit. Recording Taylor and Pete together live for some tracks to try to capture some of the energy they have playing together was some of the more exciting stuff to lay down.

Z: What’s in store for Believers in 2012? Are there plans to tour, write and record more music, or contribute to T/F?

Next week we’ll once again be playing True/False, this time at a more reasonable hour during the Mojo’s a go-go. Looking forward to it quite a bit. True/False is always a trip. Delays and delays after first sending out our mixes to Chicago Mastering service, we finally received our test pressing today [YES!] which means we will most likely have them ready for sale at the festival. As for the further off weeks and months, we’re aiming to disseminate our record both in the mail and online and hope to set ourselves up for more touring around the heartland and beyond. Having music to share gives us another incentive to get out and on the move. It’s another kick in the pants to get on it. As per usual, we’ll see what happens.

I have Believers’ EP in my possession and will be reviewing it shortly. To follow and/or contact Believers, it might be best to go to their Facebook page, but they also have a website you should check out. Of course, you could always buy their EP and figure it all out for yourself.

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True/False Recap

Posted in Film by SM on March 6, 2012

As I mentioned before, all my time outside of work was spent on the True/False Film Fest, our local documentary festival. I was busy Tweeting (both live and scheduled) throughout the week and weekend. Additionally, I wrote a few of bits for the T/F blog which will eventually get director’s cut treatment here. Also, I have a music recap of the fest that will make an appearance at some point this week. All of the following posts can be found at The CoMo Collective, a collaborative community blogging project of which I’m part, or just scroll down and read about my fest.


Courtesy of Rebecca Allen

Normally, we don’t have a February 29th. So, that may explain why Wednesday is the new Thursday for True/False, another day we rarely get to enjoy. Usually, things don’t get started until Thursday, but Wednesday was a busy one in CoMo. Yes, crews are always prepping venues up until the last minutes, but this Wednesday had a different vibe. It really did feel as though True/False was underway, one day early, a day we only receive every four years.

Ticket & Pass Pickup (5:00 – Box Office)
Have you ever seen a cooler space than the True/False box office? No, you haven’t. Rebecca has documented it well in her photo essays, but you need to see it for yourself. Installations are everywhere. Even the floor was a sight to behold. My words won’t do it justice. You just have to stop in at the corner of Broadway and Hitt to see the best interior of any building in CoMo for yourself.

Of course, I didn’t go there for the aesthetics. Although, they didn’t hurt. Nope, I was there to pick up passes and reserved tickets. T/F has always maintained an efficient ticketing process, but this may have been the best setup I’ve seen in the seven years I’ve attended the fest. The space didn’t hurt, but the efficiency of the ticket and pass reclamation was so smooth and pleasant, I could hardly believe it. I mean, usually in these situations, one build up anticipation which soon turns to anxiety as volunteers stumble to move the line and retrieve your packets. Not this year. My hat goes off to the staff and volunteers running the show. The box office experience was easily the best I’ve had yet.

And in just the other room, the merch is – as always – loaded with must-haves. T-shirt designs by some local artists/crafters really give the merch that authentic feel that can only be found at True/False. I walked away with a hoodie (now I have a green one!) and a t-shirt designed by our own Ben Chlapek. It also didn’t hurt that the merch was under control thanks to the guidance from Butterfly Tattoo’s Amanda Vander Tuig.


Also in the merch area was the music crew. Amanda Rainey greeted me and chatted for a bit. A little later, Justin Nardy showed up with a stack of his hand-printed posters featuring the bands at this year’s fest. The music merch section looks way more formidable this year and should be a place for me to lose more money.

Based on a True Story Conference (6:00 – MU campus)
I was supposed to register for this conference with T/F tie-ins at the J-School, but I spent too much time chatting with the many fine people at the box office. So, this one will have to wait, but I’m excited to catch a panel or three over the next couple of days. More to come on this conference…

I arrived in time for part of the Q&A, but Ashley and David did not. Their flight was slightly delayed, causing them to miss their Mo-X shuttle. So, they eventually Skyped in for the Q&A after the film while riding in a van from St. Louis. For all the intrigue and questions the film conjures, their stories in relation to the film only add more. This is why we stay for Q&A as often as possible throughout the fest.

Eastside Showcase
This is the unofficial official start of the fest and it’s hard to believe that any showcase will outdo the one at Eastside Tavern last night. Three bands – two local, one from Milwaukee – whipped the crowd into a pretty good frenzy for Wednesday.

Enemy Airship opened the night and one could say the entire festival.If I wanted to hear Broken Social Scene, I’d probably watch them on Pitchfork TV, but this was a close enough facsimile. I certainly don’t mean that in negative way. The band is fun, even danceable, especially as compared to their previous incarnation, Nonreturner. The set was topped off with a particularly earnest cover of New Order’s “Age of Consent”. It’s too bad no one could hear the keyboards.

Another local, Hott Lunch, played second. I had heard a lot of good things and the band did not disappoint. From punk to classic rock, this band was all over the place aggression, hitting all the right influences. I’d like to hear them focus in on one thing, but they do so many so well. Maybe that’s not so bad. Either way, it was an enjoyable set.

The closers were CATACOMBZ. With a light show few have witnessed in Eastside, the band beat the audience into submission and told them to dance without directly telling the so, yet they obeyed. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a band come in and just move the entire crowd into convulsions.

It was an excellent start to the fest. I can’t wait to actually sit down and watch a film. That will start around 4:30. Expect a full report tomorrow…


Thursday is the new Friday, or something like that. I was able to fit in a #BOATS panel, three films, and a showcase. Remember when nothing happened on Thursday? Good thing I’m taking a day off today. Anyway, here’s the rundown.

Based on a True Story Conference (1:30 – J-School)
Maybe the smartest thing the J-School has done (I said maybe) is align themselves with the fest. The panels are filled with filmmakers and film experts/journos/bloggers while an audience mostly made up of journalism academics grill them. It was friendlier than that, but only mildly.

Sometimes it’s hard to live in a town of so many journalists. Everyone’s looking for a particular kind of truth. So, during a panel on transparency, the journalists wanted more transparency while the film folk didn’t care for it. They didn’t run from transparency, but they also didn’t see the need for announcing that scenes were staged or the fact they, as filmmakers, were interfering with their subjects’ lives. I have to side with the filmmakers on this one. There are many truths, even some not taught in the J-School. When I watch a well-crafted nonfiction film, I’m not always concerned with the filmmaker’s manipulation to get a shot. If that shot is beautiful, let it play and just enjoy. These films are more art than newscast. Yes, they tell true stories and feature real subjects, but it’s art.

There were more intellectual discussions than that, but that’s another discussion for someone else’s book.

The Waiting Room (4:30pm – Forrest Theater)
What a way to start the fest. The Waiting Room is gut-wrenching watching people down on their luck spend a day in the ER waiting room. Each story is harder to watch than the last. I knew I was in for a tough watch as soon as the father worrying about his daughter was introduced within the first five minutes. The film shines a light on what a disservice our current (pre and post-Obamacare) system does for people’s well-being while simultaneously capturing the subjects’ humanity. Really, this was an excellent start to the fest.

Nature Walk were the buskers. I got a big Violent Femmes vibe as they ripped through their set, doing whatever they could to keep the crowd entertained. The video below shows them in a somewhat more somber tone, reminding of One Foot in the Grave-era Beck.

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (7:00pm – The Blue Note)
I Tweeted this…

From my perspective, it seemed as if the filmmaker sort of stumbled upon a feature film, finding a great subject and being smart enough to let the camera roll. Ai Weiwei is maybe the most engaging subject I’ve seen at T/F. For what

1/2 Revolution (9:45pm – The Blue Note)
Maybe the most incredible footage I’ve ever seen took place in this film. I felt like I was in Cairo during the people’s uprising. However, the dude needs an editor. There’s no story and I can only watch so many minutes of dudes shouting f-bombs into their cell phones from their apartments. So, the whole experience was chaotic, even amazing, but I would have liked a story.

Busking in the Blue Note were the Toughcats. The ‘Cats are part of a contingent of Maine residents who make an annual pilgrimage to CoMo for the fest. Their drummer is the most energetic thing I’ve seen.

Mojo’s Showcase (Bassdrum of Death, Jerusalem and the Starbaskets, and Ming Donkey One-Man Band)

I missed the openers, but Jerusalem and Bassdrum were plenty to make the late night worth it. Jerusalem and the Starbaskets added a second guitarist that really filled out their sound. This was followed up by Bassdrum of Death and their punk rock dirge. I swear they were eighteen-year-olds from 1992 behind all that hair. They were pretty great, even if they did rip us a new collective…

Check Day 1 here and come back for day 3.

Photo credits: top photo is Rebecca Allen’s; screenshot of the Tweet is mine, and the rest belong to Benjamin Gross

The Weekend

Image courtesy of Rebecca Allen

There are not enough hours in the day for all the music and film I attempted to take in this past weekend. I tried to find moments to blog it all for our dear readers, but there was no time for that as well. Besides attending the fest, I spent a large amount of time Tweeting from the fest’s account. So, I was effectively volunteering the entire fest, joining my 900+ brothers and sisters. Although, they were all working hard while I was watching film after film.

Either way, I saw and experienced a lot. You can check my recaps from the first two days (1 & 2), but this is what I saw over the weekend. Feel free to contribute your own good times and impressions in the comments. Much of the fest is a blur, so I’ll need your help.


The Vanishing Spring Light (12:00pm – Little Ragtag)
Typically, films like this one suck. The filmmakers hung out with a Chinese matriarch during her last days. She’s had a bad fall and her health is deteriorating by the day. It’s hard to watch someone die, but the filmmakers somehow made it all bearable. Interestingly, the film is supposed to be the first in a trilogy that documents the “re-purposing” of an entire city. Throughout this tale of one person’s final days above ground, you begin to notice that neighbors are being moved out. A large “X” is taped on nearly every door in the neighborhood… It really was an intriguing film that makes me anticipate parts two and three. Believe it or not, it didn’t feel like anything near the two hours it took to tell this story.

Secret Screening Orange (2:30pm – Big Ragtag)
Full disclosure: this film was created by friends of mine. That’s about all I can tell you as secret screenings are strictly confidential. You see, T/F can show certain films as long as they can maintain premier status at other festivals. Amazingly, folks are really good about not sharing information all over the web concerning these films. This one was good as were the other two secret screenings I saw. Again, that’s about all I can say.

March March

The Ambassador (7:00pm – Jesse)
Mads Brügger is a genius. From the man who brought us Danes for Bush and The Red Chapel comes a film about a man who takes whatever measures necessary to set himself up as an a diplomat in the Central African Republic in order to obtain blood diamonds. Through “envelopes of happiness” and a fake match factory, Brügger utilizes absurdity to demonstrate just how easy it is to smuggle blood diamonds from Africa. Maybe the most absurd moment is the transition in which he plays a cassette tape of sounds produced by whales for two Pygmy men. I don’t know that I understood it all on the first watch, but it’s easy to identify  Brügger’s genius and sense of the absurd.

Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope (10:00pm – Forrest Theater)
For documentary film geeks, Mads  Brügger is a superstar. However, for the average film-goer, two names are at the forefront. One is Michael Moore and the other is Morgan Spurlock, creator of Super-Size Me. Spurlock made it to the fest with his highly entertaining documentary on the annual event for geeks that happens every year in San Diego. Unfortunately, Spurlock didn’t make it for this screening. However, two of the subjects were on hand, including CoMo’s own Skip Harvey, an aspiring comic book illustrator and bartender at Eastside Tavern (where Spurlock eventually showed up Saturday night).

@ction! Party/Friday Night Showcase
All that you need to know about @ction Party is that there are two primary rooms for dancing. (The rest of the space is utilized for socializing, drinking, and getting a portrait taken in the T/F photo booth.) The first is out in the open, just below the go-go dancers and is primarily populated with aging hipsters dancing to the music of their youth. The second is a cramped, closed-in space that you’ll smell way before you ever enter. Being of a certain age, I stayed out of this second room, but I can’t deny the fun being had inside.


Secret Screening Lavender (10:00am – Forrest Theater)
Saturday is a marathon day. We all still have energy and just enough sleep from the night before to carry on. However, this excellent film nearly took the wind out of our sails as it depicted some rather disheartening and devastating events. As mentioned before, I can’t tell you a thing about this film except that it joined SS Orange as two of my top three or four films of the fest.

Summer of Giacomo (12:30pm Forrest Theater)

Somewhat experimental, this film barely matched its own description as a story of a boy experiencing cochlear implants. For the first 4/5 of the film, it was a nearly-perfect summer love story, ending with a nearly-perfect closing scene. Then, it attempted to hint at the story in the description. Still, even with this disconnect between film and “extra” scene, Summer was a pleasant surprise.

Bully (3:30pm – Jesse)

So, Lavender was gut-wrenching and the next film was beautiful. The third film of the day nearly did me in. Bully never let up. From one segment to the next, I cried as one story after another of kids being victimized and sometimes re-victimized by the adults in charge of protecting them was told. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house and I was a little exhausted from the entire experience. It’s an important film every educator and middle school student should see. It’s criminal that this film is rated R. If you missed it, every student accompanied by a parent will get in free to the Ragtag. Keep an eye on the Ragtag’s sitefor further information.

The Queen of Versailles (6:30pm – Jesse)
After Bully, we were too exhausted to see another film. A drink was in order… several in fact.

Argentinian Lesson (8:30pm – Forrest Theater)
At this point in the evening, I was still not in the mood for a film. I won’t say anything bad about this film as my wife assures me that it was better than I remember, sweet even. So, I’ll leave it at that. The problem was me and not the film. Queue it up on Netflix and give it a go. I may give it a second chance myself.

Building Babel (10:00pm – Little Ragtag)
If Bully had sucked out my will to see films, there was no way I’d make it though another. So, I skipped my second film of the fest and opted for Mojo’s A-Go-Go instead…

 Mojo’s A-Go-Go (10:00 – Mojo’s)
By this time of the night, there was a full-on buzz in the air.  I was ready to rock out and leave the worries of Bully behind me. Highlighting what proved to be a fantastic musical lineup, the Saturday night show at Mojo’s certainly did not disappoint. I missed Cassie Morgan (although great as a busker), but Dark Dark Dark, Why Are We Building Such a Big Ship?, and Believers completely brought the house down. (I’ll report more on the music lineup later this week.)

More happened late Saturday, early Sunday, but I’m not at liberty to tell. Just know that the Saturday of True/False weekend is easily the most eventful of every year in CoMo. (Note: Basically, there was a party I’m not at liberty to write about. At said party was a pretty big celebrity whom will remain anonymous so that I can maintain a good relationship with the fest.)


Detropia (10:00am – The Blue Note)
With very little sleep at this point, we rolled into the Blue Note for Detropia. This was a well-told story of the fastest dying in the US. It’s a sad love story for a town that was once so prominent, only to fall to the dangers of depending too much on just one industry. The film was strangely paired with Meaning of Robots which would have been more appropriately named F***ing Robots, IMO.

Going Up the Stairs (1:00pm – The Picturehouse)
After two infotaining and heart-warming shorts, Going up the Stairs painted the portrait of an Iranian artist, her process, and her struggle to make her Paris premier. Under the story, we found an interesting commentary on the relationship between husband and wife in a society such as Iran’s. There are criticisms to made, but the portrayal of the film’s subjects suggests a more thoughtful response than to simply dismiss gender inequalities of an Arab nation.

Secret Screening Blue (3:00pm – Little Ragtag)
Again, there’s nothing I can tell you about this one. It was good. The one thing you should take from this is that the secret screenings are definitely worth checking out at future fests.

Canícula (5:30pm – Little Ragtag)
Exhaustion meant that we had to skip this film in order to eat and save ourselves for the final film of the fest. It sounded somewhat anthropological and tired eyes aren’t intended for such things. So, rather than take up a seat that could be better suited to someone waiting patiently in the “Q”, I opted to eat.

The Imposter (8:00pm – The Blue Note)
The last film of the fest not located in Jesse or the Missouri Theatre was the intense story of a man who passes himself as a runaway, opening up many questions about a Texas boy’s disappearance. Full of suspense and mystery, The Imposter recalls Forbidden Lie$, also a former T/F doc. It’s hard to imagine the twists and turns this film takes, but it was an excellent way to close out our fest.

Volunteer Party
 Although I volunteered, making what many think is the best party of the fest was just not in the cards for me. This fest would not happen if it weren’t for the volunteers. They deserve more than a party, but I believe the continued success of the fest is reward enough.

No worries if you missed this year’s edition of True/False. The tenth fest will happen at the end of February next year. So, there will be opportunities to have your own T/F experiences before you know it.

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A True/False Diary, part 2

Posted in Film, Live by SM on March 9, 2011

Saturday is typically the big day to attend. Starting at 9:30 or 10:00, you can fit in a 5k run, 4-5 films, a rock show, and an after-party in the wee-hours of Sunday. I did all of those except for the run. Next year[1].

Hula & Natan; Sat, Mar 5 10:30AM; Windsor Cinema
Hula & Natan was supposed to be a laugh-out-loud riot. It was at times, but how funny can you be when you live just outside the Gaza Strip? Still, the two mechanics demonstrate an odd-couple affinity for one another, much like the tape-recorded drunks in Shut Up Little Man! and that created a lot of funny material. Interestingly, one of the most poignant scenes of the film occurred when the protagonists went out to a hill overlooking Gaza. Several Israelis were camped out there watching the territory get bombed and even cheering[2]. Hula was disgusted as he regularly did business with the Palestinians and could see them in a humane way.

Habana Muda; Sat, Mar 5 12:30PM; Little Ragtag
I’ll admit it. I didn’t want to see this film. However, it was easily one of my top-3. The filmmaker beautifully told this story of a Cuban family looking to make their life better through a Mexican man’s generosity[3]. The catch is that the patriarch of the Cuban family was preparing to marry the Mexican, go with him to Mexico, and work to support his family back in Cuba. It is easily one of the more complex love triangles[4] I’ve witnessed. Luckily, in the hands of filmmaker in full control of his craft, Habana Muda captured the humanity, love, and desperation of the situation like few films can.

The Burger and the King; Sat, Mar 5 3:30PM; Blue Note
From True Vision recipient James Marsh came this interesting biography of the King of rock ‘n roll and fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches[5]. Although not the film we wanted at that moment, The Burger and the King demonstrated just what kind of influence Marsh has had over documentary film over the last couple of decades.

The Redemption of General Butt Naked; Sat, Mar 5 5:30PM; The Hive
Terrifying penises. Lots of terrifying penises. I’m not even kidding. Still, this was not what I thought it would be. If it is possible to believe that a man has changed after being directly or indirectly involved in the killing of 20,000 people (mostly while naked[6]), then this is the film that can do it. A top-3 pick for sure.

The Arbor; Sat, Mar 5 8:00PM; Little Ragtag
This was a really interesting method of telling a story. The filmmaker used actors who lip-synched audio from interviews with the subjects, intertwined with scenes from the play The Arbor. The issue was that the filmmaker should have chosen to tell either Andrea Dunbar’s story or her daughters, not both. I left before it ended because I was tired of hearing how Dunbar’s biracial daughter continued to use drugs, prostitute herself, and have babies. Like mother, like daughter, I guess.

Mojo’s A-Go-Go; Sat, Mar 5 10:00PM; Mojo’s
The Arbor made me antsy. I needed some rock ‘n roll, and that’s what I got. I already wrote about this show in my music post, but you should know that the lineup was excellent. Haii Usagi filled the space expertly with keyboards, MacBook, and drums. Netherfriends are developing into a solid rock band that just make you wan to dance. Kings Go Forth are leading the way in this soul revivalist time we’re living. I had to laugh at all the people who scoffed at the $10 cover[7]. They missed out.

Super Secret Party; Sun, Mar 6 1:30AM; ???
I’m really not supposed to tell you anything about this party. It’s not open to everyone[8], but I was invited to see the band Believers play their debut set. I’ve written elsewhere that this was maybe the most enjoyable set of music I witnessed, buskers or otherwise. Seriously, the band was just great. Sure, to the lazy ear, it sounds like Vampire Weekend or whatever, but there’s not all that shitty-ass pretension or  Graceland schtick. Despite the connotations they conjure, Believers are original, engaging, and sure to be among my favorite local bands in the coming years, but you didn’t read it here. The party was pretty great, too.

Sunday was a bit slower, as can be expected. Two consecutive nights of after-parties did me in. So, I took it easy as I somehow fit in films 12, 13, and 14 of the fest.

Secret Screening Black; Sun, Mar 6 10:00AM; Little Ragtag
Again, there’s nothing I can really tell you about this one. Just know that our government cannot be trusted. This might be the one film to sneak out and win the Oscar a year from now. Watch[9].

The Black Power Mix Tape 1967-1975; Sun, Mar 6 12:30PM; Forrest Theater
Since I already saw this on Friday, I decided to take a well-deserved break and pick up some lunch and actually take it easy for change.

Here Comes Everybody: Journalism in 2011; Sunday, Mar 6 2:00PM; Columbia Art League
I was so ready to get in a fight with all the journos on the panel, but I ran out of time and had to run. To summarize, journalists are scared as shit they won’t have any jobs in the future. Join the club.

The Pruitt-Igoe Myth; Sun, Mar 6 3:00PM; Forrest Theater
Pruitt-Igoe was a famous housing project in St Louis. It failed miserably for several reasons (white flight to the suburbs, lack of care, detrimental welfare laws, etc.). But what has been missed over the decades since its demise are the stories of the people who lived there. A pretty conventional doc utilizing archived footage, The Pruitt-Igoe Myth was a nice companion piece with films such as The Black Power Mix Tape 1967-1975 and The Barber of Birmingham (a short on a civil rights era barber who also happened to be a foot soldier in the movement).

Moving Windmills: The William Kamkwamba Story; Sun, Mar 6 5:30PM; Little Ragtag
I had no interest in this film, but gave my ticket up to a friend. Instead, I decided to hang out with “Team Booze” or the group of guys in charge of delivering beer and spirits all weekend. I sipped on some DIPA’s[10] as the films moved along. After noticing several people exiting the theater, I used my press pass to get inside for the Q & A. The poor filmmaker was taking a beating as this was a work-in-progress and the audience didn’t necessarily understand which suggestions would be beneficial.

Life in a Day; Sun, Mar 6 8:00PM; Missouri Theatre
We finished the night with an experiment in crowd-sourcing. Thousands of filmmakers (amateur and professional) filmed their day on July 24, 2010. The producers and directors sorted out 4500 hours of footage from all over the globe to piece together a surprisingly coherent narrative of the human experience. It was a bit cheesy for my taste, but an appropriate ending for the fest.

All I can say is that I can’t wait for next year’s fest. Even if we were to somehow move[11], I think we’d return for the True/False Film Festival every year. I believe this so much that I’ve collected nearly every blog post I’ve written about the festival over the last five years on a page in this blog. Expect the content on that page to grow. Now, I have to wait another year for T/F to shake me out of my winter doldrums.

1Probably not.
2I don’t care which side you align yourself in the Israeli/Palestinian cluster-fuck. People are being bombed. You don’t laugh and cheer. It’s pretty sick to think people get off on dying and suffering.
3It’s so interesting to think of a Mexican as the rich guy someone from another country goes to financial assistance. I recognize that Mexico, like any country, has wealthy people. However, I’m not sure many Americans would admit to knowing this. They have a very warped sense of the world, particularly of our neighbors to the south.
4Aren’t they all complex?
5There’s a lot of butter used to fry up one of these mothers. It’s a wonder the man lived as long as he did.
6General Butt Naked and his “men” (read: “boys”) would often fight in the buff. From the video footage and images of these fighters, one can imagine just how terrifying that could be. I mean, it’s crazy to fight naked and there’s nothing scarier than crazy.
7Give people a laminated piece of card stock to wear around their neck and they think they can go anywhere. The issue might have been that there was another T/F-sponsored show around the corner that was free to pass holders. I’ll have suggestions to fix this in my last T/F post, if I ever get to it.
8Although they call the party “Super Secret,” plenty of folks seem to know where and when it was. Still, not everyone got in. I felt pretty special getting waved into a party two nights in a row. That’s never happened to me. Thanks, Mary.
9Although I’ve revealed nothing about the film for you to confirm my prediction, you’ll just have to trust me. Maybe I can say something after its official premier happens.
10Founder’s Double Trouble. Good stuff, that.
11Always a possibility when married to an academic.

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True/False Bands

Posted in Film, Intersections, Live by SM on March 8, 2011

Besides being the premier documentary film festival in the country[1], True/False features a somewhat eclectic bunch of bands to not only serve as buskers, serenading audiences waiting for films to begin, but they often rock out at after-parties and showcases throughout the weekend, all over town. I was asked to blog some of these bands. I didn’t see every band, nor did I attend every show, but what I saw was overall pretty enjoyable. Here’s the rundown…

Busking is when musicians practice and/or perform in a public place, often for tips. One of the unique aspects of T/F is the presence of buskers all around town and particularly in theaters. I saw 14 films over four days. Before every one of those films some busking occured. And I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for busking. So, my reviews are all pretty positive, but for various reasons. Here’s what I saw/heard:

  • Bramble might be the quintessential busking band of this year’s fest[2]. Lovely harmonizing, acoustic layers, and ancient percussive methods carry a Bramble song to the heavens.  Not jarring, but certainly not forgettable, Bramble put audiences at ease before learning about bloody mobile phones, the Black Power movement, and troll hunters. Support them on Kickstarter and keep your eyes open for a return to your favorite film festival.
  • Columbia’s own Nature Walk take their sound from the Ozarks, rocking a traditional Americana groove and exploring both the darkness and hope in nonfiction film. The band set up much like Bramble, but the aesthetic was very different. Where Bramble was of the sky, Nature Walk tasted of the earth, making the experience feel all the more authentic and taking us all home to the backwoods and hills of southern Missouri.
  • I witnessed Jeremy Freeze of Jerusalem & the Starbaskets provide two very different performances. Before To Be Heard, the gruff-looking one-time-Columbian played a somber set of country standards and originals. It was dark, Jeremy mumbled, but it seemed to set a serious mood for a pretty serious film. The old folk behind me complained a bit, but sometimes that’s what a festival likes this needs to keep it strange and abnormal. Of course, those old fogies missed out on the real fun as Jeremy spent most of his set before Shut Up Little Man! tuning his electric guitar and hollering out something about “fucking documentaries” and “fuck yeah, True/False.” He played one or two songs, tried to leave his guitar where the filmmakers typically stand after a screening, and walked off with 15 minutes to kill before the film. A volunteer convinced him to come out. Once Jeremy realized his tiny amp was all the way at the other side the stage area (maybe five feet away), he opted to just sing a couple of covers a cappella[3]. Evidence here.
  • Richard the Lionhearted is another Columbian band playing the fest. Their brand of is the kind where every song just sounds familiar. That’s comforting. They also may have been the largest band (six-piece) in the fest’s smallest theater (Little Ragtag).
  • Pearl & the Beard were often cited as the most impressive of the buskers. The Brooklyn three-piece may have also been the most versatile as they could quiet the crowd with soothing harmonies and fill a large venue like the Blue Note with the raw power of their voices. Seriously, this is one of the bands we could see some big things from in the coming years.
  • Lizzie Wright was a most unlikely busker for The Redemption of General Butt Naked[4], but she was a welcome change-of-pace, nonetheless. Imagine a chipper Joanna Newsom singing Moldy Peaches songs about robot love and you’d land somewhere near Lizzie’s aesthetic. She’s new to Middle Missouri. I look forward to hearing her play around town.
  • Mexi-Americana super-cute trio(?) David Wax Museum pulled a Arcade Fire and worked their way through the crowd at some point during their set[5], but what else should buskers do? Just stand around? The energy in their songs necessitated some movement if we were all just going to sit there. The NPR-darlings came to us from Boston and I hope they make it back next year as well.
  • Dubb Nubb were billed as the “only twindie-pop band in America” and they weren’t lying[6]. The twins were the other act that sang like Joanna Newsom, but they harmonized, creating an effect only heard on Newsom’s overdubbed aural masturbations disguised as 30-minute “songs.” I digress. Dubb Nubb were quite good at aping Newsom’s vocal stylings[7] over acoustic guitar. I enjoyed it. My Joanna Newsom-loathing wife did not.
  • Robert Sarazin, more of a storyteller than busker, closed the fest as is (becoming) tradition. He brought the house down with accompaniment from Maine’s Tough Cats before Life in a Day. The festival thrives on such personalities placing their own mark on the festivities and Robert has this talent of warming up the crowd for a grand send-off.

There were other events throughout the weekend, but I had my limits. I made some, but had to skip others. Here’s what else I saw/heard:

  • Mojo’s A Go-Go featured one of the most diverse lineups you’ll find anywhere[8]. Despite that diversity, the upbeat, danceable nature of the three bands fit perfectly together. Haii Usagi opened the gig with their version of electro-thrash, calling up the ghost of Brainiac, sans vocals and guitar[9]. I once dismissed them as sounding too Animal Collective, but that was lazy on my part. Haii Usagi bring the bleeps and blips that drives and veers as opposed to superficially just addressing your need to dance the night away. I’m happy they’re local as it should afford me more opportunities to see them again.
  • Also on the Mojo’s lineup was Chicago and Emergency Umbrella band Netherfriends. I saw them play an EU showcase a summer ago and Pitchfork last summer. Since that time, the band has really worked out the kinks. Danceable indie rock is not an easy thing to pull off without sounding fleeting, but Netherfriends is figuring things out. Netherfriends plays like Animal Collective[10] with soul and seemingly stuck in the seventies. This was truly a fun set. It was nice to see.
  • The night’s headliner was Milwaukee’s Kings Go Forth, another in a long line of soul revivalists flooding the indie scene. This band was good at what they do and caused the crowd to dance up a frenzy like few I’ve seen in this town[11]. Honestly, I don’t get this new obsession with soul music and I’m not sure Kings Go Forth really changed my mind, but they certainly were entertaining.
  • The other set I witnessed Saturday night (or Sunday morning) was that of Columbia’s Believers at a party I’m not allowed to tell you about[12]. There was certainly a palpable energy in the room created by the band as they ripped through a set that left folks wanting more (always a good sign). They’re like Vampire Weekend with balls, White Rabbits with irony, and The Walkmen if they wanted to sound like they’re from this century and not the last. This was a set that made me smile and that doesn’t happen that often anymore. This really was the best set of the fest. Too bad only a few witnessed it.

For those who think True/False is just about the films, you’re sadly mistaken as the music aspect is slowly growing into a major event of its own. I feel bad for those fest-goers who pay no attention to the buskers or avoid the rock shows and showcases. However, it just means there’s more room for me to attend, a practice I will surely include in future True/False fests.

This post originally appeared in The CoMO Collective, a site I am collaboratively working on with a few other Columbian bloggers. The only difference between that post and this one is that this one has some revisions and footnotes. So, consider yourself lucky.

1That’s right. I said it. Name one that’s better. All I know is that every filmmaker who comes through talks about how much they love our fest or they say it’s the best documentary film festival anywhere. They don’t have to say that. I think that because it is primarily focused on documentary film, it gets about as much mainstream attention as docs typically get.
2Before this year, I would have tagged Brody Douglas Hunt as the quintessential T/F busker, but sadly, Brody didn’t make it out this year.
3I suspect he was a bit tipsy, but it was a happy tipsy. Nothing wrong with that.
4I described this film with two words on Twitter: terrifying penises. That’s all you need to know.
5This made it really hard to eat my burrito.
6What I mean to say is that they’re actually twins, possibly identical. I don’t know that they’re the only “twindie” act in America, but they certainly looked alike.
7Who would have guessed that folks would copy Joanna Newsom’s voice? I guess it shows that’s she’s more influential than we may have once expected her to be.
8Typically, “diverse” lineups include a bunch of white dudes and a hip-hop act. This was not the case. It’s possible to have diversity without hip-hop. Now, had they included some women on the bill, that would have made the lineup more diverse.
9This is something I would have assumed was impossible, but Haii Usagi made me think “Brainiac” the whole time. Really, that’s quite a feat.
10Sorry. This time the reference was meant as a compliment and was particularly apt. I recognize compare bands is lazy, but it’s also an effective way to communicate. Besides, I’m barely professional at this.
11We don’t dance here. I’m not sure why.
12It’s not just a secret, it’s a super secret party held at a secret location. You know you’ve been in a town for a long time when the the person running the door takes one look at you and says, “Zac, you’re okay to go in.” (Thanks, Mary!) I was on the list thanks to my role as T/Fweeter and music blogger/guerrilla journalist.

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A True/False Diary, part 1

Posted in Film, Live by SM on March 7, 2011

I am still recovering from four days of docs, drinks, and dancing[1] at this year’s True/False Fest. The following is a rundown of all the things I saw and did over that time. Last night, I had trouble just remembering which films I had actually seen, but it’s all coming back to me.

Blood in the Mobile; Thu, Mar 3 5:30PM; Big Ragtag
What a great way to start the fest. Of course, it made me feel a little guilty for using my phone so much[2], but it was a strong start to an excellent weekend. Maybe one of the most powerful moments of the entire fest happened when the filmmakers ventured down a coltan mine in the Eastern Congo[3]. It’s the most claustrophobic I’ve felt watching a film since the director’s cut of Das Boot many years ago. Plus, it was interesting to see the contrast in the mines, the surrounding miners camp and Nokia headquarters in Finland. Two characteristics that seemed to run throughout the fest were Scandinavian filmmakers and a focus on African and African-American subjects.

The Jubilee (w/ Benda Bilili!); Thu, Mar 3 7:30PM; Missouri Theatre
The first film made us a little late to fully enjoy the fest’s newest event, the Jubilee. While my partner searched out some food, I grabbed a Schafly APA and enjoyed mingling with drunk, middle-aged folk. We settled into the beautiful Missouri Theatre. What I witnessed was the maybe the best rockumentary[4] I’ve seen in a while. The film had holes and there was a bit a cheese involved in the happy ending, but second-straight film set in the Congo was a lot of fun. I particularly loved the representation of the disabled as capable[5].

Secret Screening Purple; Thu, Mar 3 9:30PM; Forrest Theater
I can’t really tell you much about this film. The fest has an agreement with a few bigger festivals (Hello, SXSW!) that they won’t reveal the titles or specific details about certain films so that those fests can claim premier status. What’s interesting is that many films have their first screenings at True/False, but for whatever reason, other festivals get the credit. It’s an aspect of the industry I don’t get. However, I feel lucky enough just to get a chance at seeing these films and will respect the arrangement by not telling you too much about these films. That said, SS Purple was a pretty cool film and featured maybe the best soundtrack I’ve heard in a T/F film.

The Black Power Mix Tape 1967-1975; Fri, Mar 4 3:00PM; Big Ragtag
We reserved two screenings for this one as I had work commits that could have caused me to miss out on my first Friday film. I was on the road at 5 AM, drove three hours out, sat for three hours, and drove back. Luckily, I made it in time. Ironically, halfway through the doc, a tornado warning caused the volunteers to stop the film. The audience all wondered why bother to stop as they called their loved ones. We weren’t going anywhere.

The Black Power Mix Tape was another Scandinavian film about African(-Americans) and told me more about the Black Power movement than I’d previously known[6]. It was a rather unbiased and factually-based look at the movement, bringing home the idea that every major social movement needs an extreme presence to push through. Every high school in America should have this film in their media centers.

The Woman With Five Elephants; Fri, Mar 4 5:00PM; Forrest Theater / North From Calabria; Fri, Mar 4 6:30PM; The Chapel
We made the mistake of not eating on Thursday and we wouldn’t make that mistake again. These were “extra” films we chose to fill the time slots[7]. The second of the two films overlapped the next, so we chose to attend a parade and eat.

March March; Fri, Mar 4 5:15PM
Said parade was rained on, but that didn’t dampen the marchers. The best part was that we were able to get our kid out of preschool in time to check out the parade. I’ve never made it out to see the March March, but I’m glad I did this time. It’s a ramshackle affair where anyone can join and those who do dress in the most original costumes.

To Be Heard; Fri, Mar 4 7:30PM; Little Ragtag
I’m a little weary of films about schools. These films (fiction or nonfiction) are often preachy, devoid of reality, and/or circle-jerks over an egotistical teacher. Rarely do these films focus on reality or the lives of the students. To Be Heard actually gets it right. Smart, savvy subjects and some really great poetry dominate this film. It wasn’t all uplifting, but the film’s reality was a welcome addition to the “inner-city-schooling-achievement” film genre.

Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure; Fri, Mar 4 10:00PM; Little Ragtag
My partner called it a night as she had been traveling all week and I settled into one of the Ragtag’s infamous couches for what promised to be the funniest film of the fest. I don’t know that Shut Up… lived up to that promise, but it did bring up some interesting ethical issues. Basically, two young guys record the drunken arguments between their neighbors and eventually turn those recordings into an underground phenomenon. Questions arise as to who owns content that’s been taken under dubious circumstances. The film was more interesting than hilarious, but it was still good for a few laughs.

@CTION! Party; Friday, Mar 4, 10:00PM
I don’t normally do parties at T/F[8]. I tend to just focus on the films, but this year’s involvement in the fest made me want to check this event out. Basically, it was a lot of free booze and multiple rooms with multiple DJ’s letting folks get their grooves on[9]. One room featured soul and 80’s revivalist soul and the other featured music for young folks and a hipster stench. I thought this would be my last stop of the night, but I ended up at an after-party where chatting up T/F staff and filmmakers was actually possible[10]. Plus, Hellbender provided some beer. That’s always a good reason to show up for a party.

There is a second half of this post-T/F diary. However, I will be posting something about the bands I saw in the meantime[11]. So, be on the lookout for two new posts in the coming 48 hours.

1I don’t actually dance anymore, but I saw and heard a shit-ton of great music. I just liked the alliteration.
2I was the unofficial fest Tweeter. While someone on the fest’s core staff was technically in charge of all the social media efforts and did his own share of Tweet, I had access to the Twitter account and was constantly Tweeting the events of the weekend. It was fun, but I will want to prepare much earlier in the game next year if they allow me to participate. Still, it afforded me a lot of access to the fest, which made it the best of the six I’ve attended.
3Coltan is one of the main minerals used in constructing cell phones. The mining of this mineral is being exploited to fund warlords in the Congo.
4I mostly say this because it feels as if the fest has ignored a film genre I happen to love. Maybe there’s a way to highlight new and old rockumentaries in future fests. Keep that in mind as I will post suggestions for next year’s fest later in the week.
5Too often, we are presented with images of the so-called “disabled” as unable to do pretty much anything. While I don’t think the fest has done a ton to dispel this myth, this film and 2005’s Murder Ball suggest otherwise. In Benda Bilili!, the subjects overcome numerous obstacles (in addition to their inability to walk on their own) to support families and become rather successful musicians.
6For one thing, the leaders in the Black Power movement were not nearly as violent as the media and history books would want you to believe.
7This means that there were two extra seats for those waiting in the “Q.” You’re welcome.
8To be honest, I don’t do parties too well. I prefer less-structured get-togethers.
9Despite my unanimous selection has my high school senior class’ best dancer, I don’t really dance much these days, unless it’s with my two-year-old.
10I actually didn’t talk to any filmmakers at this event, but I did talk to To Be Heard‘s Pearl.
11This was the main reason I received a press pass. So, I should probably follow through with that commitment.

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My True/False Preview: 5 Things

Posted in Film by SM on March 3, 2011

While I am not the most experienced, not most in-the-know person attending this year’s fest, I do have five of these buggers under my belt. So, that has given me some insight into a few things you should keep in-mind for this year’s edition. Here are my top-5 things to remember as you enjoy 3-4 days of docs, drinks, and dancing:

  1. Plan your Q carefully. The Q is what non-ticket-holders use to get into films they really want to see. The key to the Q is to show up at least an hour ahead to get your number. Once the numbers are passed out, you’ll have 45-50 minutes to kill. It used to be that one could get into almost any film on the Q, but that’s not the case as the fest has grown. I’d suggest Q’ing it up for films in the larger venues such as the Missouri Theatre, Blue Note, or the Windsor Cinema on the Stephens campus.
  2. Take your own food and water. On paper, the schedules look spacious. It appears there’s a lot of time to grab a bite between screenings. However, after staying to hear some Q&A from the filmmakers and enjoying the walk from Stephens College to the Missouri Theater, passing crowded eatery after eatery, you’ll come to realize that there just isn’t time to eat. Take some food with you. I suggest any kind of sandwich that fits under the “pocket” or “wrap” category. Also, take a water bottle and rehydrate whenever possible.
  3. When you do have time to eat, I’d suggest breakfast at Uprise, Booches Burgers for lunch (and hangover cure), Kaldi’s for that afternoon caffeine jolt, and happy hour sliders and beers at Sycamore. Sure, those are some decadent options, but it’s a festival. Be festive!
  4. Don’t carry all of your tickets at once. It’s too easy to lose that manilla envelope your tickets come in or accidently let one ticket slip out as you pull from your stash. I always organize my tickets by day and leave the rest in a safe spot at home, ready for the next day’s onslaught of nonfiction.
  5. Enjoy like there’s no tomorrow. If you can see ten films this weekend, go see eleven. If you are done with the films for the day, there’s sure to be a party or band showcase you can attend. Don’t worry about overload. You can rest next weekend. Besides, like Xmas, True/False only happens once a year.

Those are my “things.” Some other Middle Missouri bloggers have other ideas. Most are captured at Capturing COMO. Show-Me Eats has your menus all picked out. That and there are a million and one Twitter hashtags in use for the weekend:

I’ll recap here after the weekend is through. You can also go to a new spot, CoMO Collective, if you want more T/F reflection.

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