World’s Best Documentaries Come to the Heartland

Attendees of last year’s True/False Film Fest in Columbia, Missouri, gather in the lobby of the historic Missouri Theatre.

True/False. There’s a big film event this weekend.

The correct response, of course, is True/False.

The event I’m talking about isn’t the Oscars. It’s the 11th annual True/False Film Fest in Columbia, Missouri, running today through Sunday.

Each February/March, thousands of movie lovers converge on theaters in Columbia to watch the best documentaries of the year.

The nearly fifty films being screened in this weekend’s festival naturally include some that deal with people and places outside the US. Here, for your enjoyment, are a sampling:

L’Escale (Stop-Over)
Undocumented Iranians in Athens, left on their own by their smuggler, fear the police and long for a new life in Europe. . . and wait.

In these real-time clips, the camera follows the people in eleven cable cars as they travel up a mountain in Nepal to visit the Manakamana temple. It’s like riding in a car with strangers, and staring at them the whole time.

Cairo Drive
What’s it like driving in Cairo? This film shows you the triumphs and trials of making your way around Egypt’s largest city. And as if the traffic weren’t chaotic enough, much of Cairo Drive takes place during the tumultuous happenings of the Arab Spring.

Forest of the Dancing Spirits
Director Linda Västrik lived with the Congo’s Aka pygmies for seven years. The result is this glimpse into the lives of an isolated tribe, as it holds on to its culture in the face of encroachment by the “modern” world.

[photo: “True/False Film Festival, Missouri Theatre, Columbia,” by Missouri Division of Tourism, used under a Creative Commons license]


Dialogue of Cultures: Free International Films Online for Next 9 Days

8315397336_2a1fd9706a_mThis year, the Dialogue of Cultures International Film Festival is being held online. That means you don’t have to travel to someplace like Tokyo or New York to watch the entries, since all are available for online viewing at from November 1-14—for free.

According to the festival site at MUBI, the event is “dedicated to the worldwide phenomenon of people in search of their identity in the era of mass migration and globalisation. Its goal is to jumpstart a dialogue between cultures through the universal language of cinema.”

The 23 films, from 14 countries, are in the running for the Audience Award Grand Prix, which carries an award of $5,000.  Vote for your favorites by clicking their “Become a Fan” buttons.

An example of the global diversity represented in the entries is Old Is the New, a film from Switzerland about a Chinese tourism worker who visits a Greek-speaking region of southern Italy.

The festival is also calling for submissions for its short-film competition. Entries must be no longer than seven minutes, and the deadline for submitting a film is February 1, 2014. The winner of the competition will receive $3,000.

[photo: “Old Theater Seats,” by Joey Lax-Salinas, used under a Creative Commons license]