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The Influence

Over four days every March, thousands congregate at True/False to take in a mix of (mostly) documentaries, innovative social events and dozens of buskers that collectively make the festival such a standout fest for locals and visitors alike. Said Wilson, "We want to throw a great party and we want to build – in whatever ways we can – a coalition of people whose enthusiasm will sort of run rampant and be infectious."

Paul Sturtz and David Wilson began discussing the idea for exhibiting films in the college town of Columbia, Mo. back in the fall of 1997. That led to the creation of a film society, which became a storefront cinema, which became a full-on film festival in 2004. In the decade that's followed, True/False has developed into a true gem on the festival circuit, with filmmakers, programmers and anyone else lucky enough to make their way there in awe of the many ways the festival has set itself apart from the others.

Looking back on its origins, Wilson and Sturtz said that one of their main goals already has a happy ending. They said it was impossible to imagine that they could motivate a Midwestern college town and the people that might come to that town to swarm in large numbers to see any documentary, much less a risky,non-traditional documentaries. But with True/False, they most certainly have.

Biggest Success

A moment during the parade that kicks off True/False. "I looked at the beaming faces of the documentary film industry who I most respect in the world," Wilson said. "It was pure elation for me that I had a hand in bringing this together."

Biggest Disappointment

“I feel like our lowlights always happen in the off season,” Wilson said, offering many horrifying examples. The worst? "All of venue art and equipment that we’d saved for years getting caught in a flood and then grown over by black mold in 2010."

Biggest Challenge

"The challenge that we are currently facing is how to maintain the momentum that was have," Sturtz said.  "It’s a huge challenge to continually reevaluate where we should grow and where we shouldn’t grow."

What's Next

Sturtz and Wilson are exploring ideas of how they can have a more year-round presence that supports filmmakers and "continue to help the films they love find their ways into the world."

The Survey
My Biggest Career Break...
Moving to kind and gentle Columbia, Missouri from the super-competitive Portland, Oregon.
Best Filmmaker Working Today...
Jarred Alterman, who made "Convento"
A Guilty Pleasure Movie...
"The Life Aquatic"
My First Job...
Delivering Pennysaver, a free advertising paper in Rockland County, New York
The age that Paul got his first job