On True/False

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(Above: My favorite buskers this year: River Kittens. Their new album drops soon.)

True/False has come and gone (for more on True/False Film Festival and what it is and why I enjoy it check out my last blog post here). Over the weekend I saw 6 short films (30 min or less) and 15 feature length films. It was a whirlwind of thoughtful conversations, tears, laughter, creativity, and joy. These past few days have been spent recouping from the fest. I thought about reviewing each film or giving a succinct recap. However, the wonderful thing about True/False is how much it stretches and creates conversation. So rather than critique, I want to share something that I learned from each film, something that stirred me or challenged me.

  • Stand Beside Her (Shorts)
    • Good White People – We’re seeing black culture being pushed from neighborhoods as gentrification continues. This took me back to an episode of “This American Life,” we should be seeking to integrate cultures. It was difficult to see a wonderful black family be forced out of their home.
    • Bisonhead – Freedom means different things to different people. I take mine for granted.
    • Speaking Is Difficult – Perhaps the most difficult to watch film of the week. Police scanners played from every major shooting over the last few years, with serene scenes from each location. It was unique and heartbreaking. I wept. Violence is horrible. Something must be done.
    • Nothing Human – One line stuck with me as Louis Akin, a criminal investigator, recreated a tragic American military base shooting, “I don’t believe in unconditional love, I do believe there is perpetual violence.” Violence toward Christ demonstrated unconditional love. I pray Louis finds that. I pray I showcase this.
    • These C**ksucking Tears – A gay country singer displays what it feels like to be outcasted. For me it showed a wrestling with identity. A theme that was explored throughout the fest.
  • Life, Animated
    • Quite easily the most uplifting film of the festival. Watching Owen learn how to communicate using Disney characters was beautiful and moving. It stirred me to want to love/serve the mentally disabled community with greater compassion.
  • Michael, Shannon, Michael, Shannon, John
    • Seeing a father abandon his children and subsequently have those children each wrestle with who they were and who he was gave me a great affection for perceiving God as Father.
  • Presenting Princess Shaw
    • So moved to see someone finally be acknowledge for their incredible talent. Princess Shaw overcame so much hostility and it was deeply moving and uplifting. It also spoke to me about giving the unlikely an opportunity and seeing them seize it.
  • Sonita
    • Powerful. Seeing someone be so bold to speak against injustice, man it was moving. As Sonita rapped against basically being sold away, I was stirred at how I need to fight for the downtrodden and war against injustice.
  • Weiner
    • Your past can be difficult to escape. Thankful that I have redemption in Christ. Watching someone fight to redeem themselves, while in this instance hilarious, was also heartbreaking.
  • The Fear of 13
    • One of the most captivating story tellers I’ve ever heard. For me it was inspiring to see how Nick Yaris taught himself so much in his captivity. It makes me again aware of how poorly I utilize my freedom.
  • The Pearl
    • By far the most difficult film of the fest for me personally. A deep wrestling for identity and belonging. In the end I was so thankful that I’ve found myself secure in my identity in Christ.
  • The Bad Kids
    • The tenacity and love that the principle of Black Rock High School had was overwhelming. Never have I wanted a subject to be at a film so badly, so that we could all thank them for their commitment. It stirred me to serve those who struggle, who haven’t been afforded the same opportunities as me. Man, what a challenge.
  • Norman Lear: Another Version of You
    • A great film that displayed a full life. It was inspiring to see how one mind was so creative and fearless.
  • Peter and the Farm
    • This film was fantastic. It has stuck with me unlike anything else I saw during the fest. To see Peter’s farm, most would be envious of the tranquil beauty and simple life that he leads. But the cumbersome and lonely reality demonstrates how ultimately, satisfaction isn’t found in this world. What an excellent telling story.
  • Secret Screening Navy
    • In the spirit of the fest I won’t share any details of this film. All I will say is how much concern was stirred in me.
  • Concerned Student 1950
    • Perhaps the most important film of the festival. For me, what I took, is that I need to listen before I speak. I’m deeply concerned for my black brothers and sisters. I hate how hurt and isolated they feel. Rather than critique or try and see what I can do to fix it…I think we start by being quiet and listening.
  • Kate Plays Christine
    • After much thought, I think this is my favorite of the fest. I nearly skipped it because of how many disliked it. What a compelling and challenging film. I felt like I needed a nap or a long walk after the movie. It forces you to deal with issues you don’t want to. Depression is in your face, some twisted things that society craves, it’s all on display. Wow. For me I walked away stirred by the reality that so many struggle and the gospel has much joy in the face of opposition. Depression is nasty. Redemption is greater.
  • Author: The JT Leroy Story
    • Lies catch up to you. What a brilliant mind and an insane story. I won’t spoil anything for you. But man what a surreal story.
  • Tickled
    • The most bizarre and hilarious film I’ve seen at True/False. Control is a nasty thing, especially when no one opposes you. Please see this. It’s excellent.
  • Sherpa
    • The veneer of Everest is pulled off as we see the reality of the Sherpas. The Sherpas were so incredibly strong and taken advantage of. A film that stirred me against injustice.

What a year. Every single film I enjoyed. I was stirred. It’s been exactly a week since the start of the fest and I am still mulling over everything I saw. I will be for sometime. So thankful for all of the conversations. I can’t wait for next year!

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