Having met David and Paul from True/False at Telluride two years ago, I’ve been looking forward to finally making the trip to Columbia, MO to see first-hand what they are up to. On the plane home yesterday, I took some time to write about the fest, but the more I think about it, there is more to it than just the distinctiveness and creativity of their event…
Over the weekend I spent time meeting and hanging out with probably two dozen of the doc filmmakers who traveled to Columbia for the event. To me, that was probably the ultimate value of T/F, since at most fests its hard to make the quality time to hang out with even a handful of filmmakers. A new generation of doc directors has emerged since the emergence of DV cameras in the late-90s and many of the filmmakers that I meet today pursuing the way that documentaries can address social issues, shine a light on a subculture, or explore stories not being addressed in the media.
And at a festival that went out of its way to put so many filmmakers together in social settings, without the pressures of competition or vying for the attention of the industry, its only natural that the weekend became a great chance to share stories and information. At parties and dinners, there were great opportunities: one had questions about foreign sales, another was trying to navigate the fest circuit, while yet another was hoping to make sense of changing rules for Oscar qualiifying. Luckily, for each question, there was another filmmaker who had just dealt with the issue and was also to talk about it.
An increasing concern among directors, one that came up in numerous conversations this weekend, is the bleak outlook for theatrical distribution. Many were talking about the situation at Wellspring and wondering what it says about the business.