True/False Conversations

  • Hosted by KBIA Staff

The KBIA reporting team interviews filmmakers whose work is appearing at this year's True/False Film Festival.  Read or listen to the interviews and find out everything you need to know about this year's best documentaries.  

Prefer to take it with you?  Now you can download the True/False podcast on the iTunes store or with your favorite podcasting software via this link.

Courtesy of Of Men And War/Laurent Becue-Renard

This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year’s True/False Festival.  Find the rest of them here or download the podcast on iTunes. 

“It’s a horrible thing to watch your friend disappear forever within the confines of a body bag.”

That’s what one young man tells a group of other war veterans in a therapy session for vets with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  It’s just one scene in the documentary “Of Men And War” that follows the lives of a handful of American soldiers dealing with PTSD at a treatment center in Napa Valley, Calif.

The men recount their stories, often with anger and tears in the eyes, trying to understand why they have returned from war differently and how its affecting them and their families. Director Laurent Becue-Renard talked with me about his film that took a decade to make.

Hila Oz

This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year’s True/False Festival.  Find the rest of them here or download the podcast on iTunes.

“Life according to Ohad” follows its eponymous character as he tries to re-bond with his family. Ohad is an animal rights activist, who throughout the documentary sneaks into slaughterhouses, chains himself to chicken crates and performs unsettling public demonstrations with his teams of activists.

There’s a disconnect between Ohad and his family, though, and while both sides realize the ties of family are deeply important and worth fighting for, so is trying to see life the way others do. I talked with director and vegan activist Eri Daniel Erlich about his choice to make a film about his friend Ohad.

What Happened, Miss Simone?

Mar 6, 2015
Press Photo / What Happened, Miss Simone?

This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year’s True/False Festival.  Find the rest of them here or download the podcast on iTunes.

The film What Happened, Miss Simone? Takes an intimate look into the life of the late singer and her struggles with fame, race and a tumultuous marriage. The legacy of Nina Simone’s music has spanned multiple generations, shattering racial barriers in the music industry. Trained as a classical pianist, Simone found success in the raw immersive world of jazz and blues. Her songs told the stories of a broken system and racial prejudice that helped set the tone of the civil rights movement in the 1960’s.


The Man who is ‘Almost There’

Mar 5, 2015
Press Photo / Almost There

This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year’s True/False Festival.  Find the rest of them here or download the podcast on iTunes.

83-year-old artist Peter Anton was only known in his community of East Chicago before filmmakers Dan Rybicky and Aaron Wickenden stumbled into his life. The film “Almost There” follows Anton as the filmmakers become his caretakers and advocates for his art exhibit, which quickly becomes controversial.


Climbing and Filming The Shark's Fin in 'Meru'

Mar 5, 2015
Press Photo / Meru

The Shark’s Fin route of Meru Peak in the Himalayas is considered one of the most challenging climbs in the world. The ascent to the almost 21,000 foot summit has defeated dozens of professional mountain climbers. Meru, one of the films at this weekend’s True False Film Festival, documents three climbers’ trip to the top of the peak where so many others have failed.


Press Photo / The Visit

This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year’s True/False Fest.  Find the rest of them here or download the podcast on iTunes.

Director Michael Madsen is working on a trilogy of films that he calls “a trilogy on mankind.” The first film, Into Eternity: A Film for the Future, was about the building of a final repository for nuclear waste. He now presents the second in this series, called The Visit, which chronicles the events and conversations that unfold once intelligent, extraterrestrial life has landed on Earth and made contact with mankind.

Press Photo / Finders Keepers

This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year’s True/False Fest.  Find the rest of them here or download the podcast on iTunes.

Back in 2008 filmmaker Ed Cunningham heard a strange story on the news about a man who bought a barbecue smoker at an auction and found a severed human leg inside. A legal battle ensued between the finder of the foot and the man it once belonged to.


Press Photo / The Chinese Mayor

This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year’s True/False Fest.  Find the rest of them here or download the podcast on iTunes.

Qi Zhao is an Emmy award winning producer. His most recent film, The Chinese Mayor, depicts the mayor of the Chinese city of Datong as he attempts to transform the city into a cultural destination; a massive undertaking that includes relocating half-a-million of the city’s residents.


Press Photo / Cartel Land

This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year’s True/False Fest.  Find the rest of them here or download the podcast on iTunes.

Since 2004 the annual True False Film Fest has brought world-class documentary films and their creators to Columbia, and the 2015 festival promises to bring more than fifty films to venues across the city.  Stacey Woelfel, Director of the Jonathan B. Murray Center for Documentary Journalism, and an associate professor at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, came in to give us a journalist's preview of True/False 2015.


E-TEAM the movie, LLC

This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year’s True/False Festival.  Find the rest of them here or download the podcast on iTunes.

Jesse Moss, The Overnighters

This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year’s True/False Festival.  Find the rest of them here or download the podcast on iTunes

The fracking boom in much of the U.S. has opened up a new path for people searching for work, of course, but also for redemption and reinvention.  In the film “The Overnighters,” filmmaker Jesse Moss travels to Williston, N.D., to tell the story of Lutheran Pastor Jay Reinke and the workers he houses in his church and home. Reinke invites newcomers to sleep in extra rooms at the church and to sleep in their cars in the parking lot while they look for jobs and more permanent housing. Some of the men even live in the pastor’s home with his family.

Still from the film / Jaap Van Hoewijk

This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year’s True/False Festival.  Find the rest of them here or download the podcast on iTunes.

Particle Fever

This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year’s True/False Festival.  Find the rest of them here or download the podcast on iTunes.

On March 14, 2013, experiments at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland tentatively confirmed the existence of the Higgs boson, sometimes referred to as the “God particle.” Its discovery was the culmination of nearly 30 years of work. The film "Particle Fever" captures the tension and drama in a group of dedicated scientists on the brink of a once in a lifetime discovery.

Courtesy of Michael Latham

This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year’s True/False Festival.  Find the rest of them here or download the podcast on iTunes.

“Ukraine is Not a Brothel” gives an intimate look at the world’s most controversial feminist movement.  Femen created a media frenzy in Europe as its members spoke out against patriarchy by way of topless demonstrations -- writing protest messages on their bare chests. As the movement gets larger, Femen's activists learn they must face the dark forces that power their organization.

Courtesy of Cynthia Hill

This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year’s True/False Fest.  Find the rest of them here or download the podcast on iTunes.

When her ex-husband would beat her, survivor Deanna Walters says her family used to ask her "Why don't you just leave him?" 

If only the answer were simple. And as long-time advocate for domestic abuse survivors Kit Gruelle says: If only no one would ever ask that question. 

Photo courtesy Daniel Vernon

This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year’s True/False Fest.  Find the rest of them here or download the podcast on iTunes.

Films and filmmakers from around the world are converging in mid-Missouri this weekend for the annual True/False Film Fest.

Image courtesy Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez

This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year’s True/False Fest.  Find the rest of them here or download the podcast on iTunes.

This weekend is the annual True/False Film Fest, bringing documentary films and filmmakers to Columbia from all over the world.

Joe Callander, Life After Death

Series explanation: This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year’s True/False Festival.  Find the rest of them here or download the podcast on iTunes.

The film “Life After Death” follows Kwasa , an orphan in Rwanda, as he struggles for social opportunities in a land plagued by genocide. Kwasa battles with how to overcome his childhood experiences and become a better man through the help of his friend, Christian philanthropists, and two donors from Dallas, Texas, with whom he communicates through Facebook.

The Notorious Mr. Bout

This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year’s True/False Fest.  Find the rest of them here or download the podcast on iTunes.

For more than a decade, Russian entrepreneur Viktor Bout was widely thought of as the brilliant, elusive figure at the head of a global arms trade.  By the time he was brought down by an elaborate sting operation in 2008, Bout’s reputation in the media was that of a super villain. But in their film "The Notorious Mr. Bout," Maxim Pozdorovkin and Tony Gerber examine Bout’s life in the arms trade through a slightly different lens – his own. Before he became known as the “Merchant of Death,” Bout was to some simply a businessman, a travel enthusiast, and an amateur filmmaker.

Ryan Murdock / Bronx Obama

This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year’s True/False Fest.  Find the rest of them here or download the podcast on iTunes.

The film Bronx Obama has the danger of becoming a novelty act – much like the subject of the film. Louis Ortiz was unemployed when someone at a bar in 2008 told them he looked a lot like that Senator, Barack Obama. When that Senator became President, Ortiz’s life changed.

Ortiz decides to try to turn his look into cash, and then into a career, at least while it lasts. The film Bronx Obama goes beyond the “gee whiz” aspect of Ortiz’s story. Director Ryan Murdock shows how Ortiz’s re-invention of himself affects his life, his family and his psyche.

Robert Greene, Actress

This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year’s True/False Fest.  Find the rest of them here or download the podcast on iTunes.

Robert Greene is no virgin to True/False. Three of his feature films have shown in Columbia over the years. In fact, he says he owes a lot of his career to the festival.

In his latest film “Actress,” Greene follows Brandy Burre – who fans of HBO’s “The Wire” may recognize as cutthroat campaign consultant Theresa D’Agostino – as she steps back into the thespian game after a reprieve to start a family.

Greene blends melodramatic, staged interludes with cinema verite scenes as the audience is guided through Burre’s dance among the roles of mother, partner, friend, businesswoman and actress. Greene tells the story strictly through Burre’s point of view, as her asides demonstrate the piercing self-awareness of an honest woman in the midst of the growing pains of change. Ultimately, the film poses the question to the audience: At what cost does reclaiming your dreams come at?

Red Box Films

This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year’s True/False Fest.  Find the rest of them here or download the podcast on iTunes.

The film the Green Prince follows the unlikely journey of Mosab Hassan Yousef. Born in the Palestinian territories to a high-ranking Hamas leader, Mosab does the unthinkable: he spies on his own people for Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence agency.

Using candid interviews, archival footage, and dramatic reenactments, director Nadav Schirman follows Mosab’s transformation, and his complicated relationship with his Israeli handler, Gonen Ben Itzhak.

Amanda Rose Wilder, Approaching the Elephant

This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year’s True/False Fest.  Find the rest of them here or download the podcast on iTunes.

In the film “Approaching the Elephant,” filmmaker Amanda Rose Wilder follows the students and teachers of a so-called free school in New Jersey where the students make the rules. Wilder, who mans the camera for the film, is a fly on the wall as the audience is taken through the school’s inaugural year and all of the problems that arise. 

Some students struggle with handling the school’s democratic structure while others thrive. The film culminates in some serious decisions regarding the future of the school, its tireless director and its most troublesome student.

Dora Garcia Lopez

This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year’s True/False Fest.  Find the rest of them here or download the podcast on iTunes.

Literature lovers, get ready: This year, the True/False Film Fest will take you to a James Joyce reading group.

Courtesy of Jessica Oreck

This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year’s True/False Fest.  Find the rest of them here or download the podcast on iTunes.

For more than a decade, fans of documentary film have flocked to Columbia, Mo., for the annual True/False Film Fest. The screenings start on Thursday.

Many of this year’s films are set in big cities -- like Cairo, Rome and New York. But several works also focus on rural life. "Rich Hill" follows three teenagers growing up in a small Missouri community south of Kansas City.  Jessica Oreck’s "The Vanquishing of the Witch Baba Yaga" uses animation and stunning scenes of everyday village life in Eastern Europe to tell the Slavic fairytale of Baba Yaga. The film is shot in Super 16.

Courtesy of 'Dirty Wars'

This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year’s True/False Festival.  Find the rest of them here or download the podcast on iTunes.

Omar Mullick / Oscilloscope Laboratories.

This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year’s True/False Festival.  Find the rest of them here or download the podcast on iTunes.

The Crash Reel on Facebook

This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year’s True/False Festival.  Find the rest of them here or download the podcast on iTunes.

When professional snowboarder Kevin Pearce crashed in the half-pipe in 2009, his life’s trajectory took a turn for the uncertain. After barely surviving a devastating head injury from the fall, Pearce’s recovery ultimately became more than just returning to full health.

Enter filmmaker Lucy Walker. In “The Crash Reel,” the Oscar-nominated documentarian opens a door to Kevin and his family as they struggle with how to handle Kevin’s injury and recovery. The intimate interactions between family members highlight the horrors of traumatic head injuries and the effects they have on loved ones.

Courtesy of Pussy Riot - A Punk Prayer

This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year’s True/False Festival.  Find the rest of them here or download the podcast on iTunes.

A little over a year ago, members of the feminist punk rock collective Pussy Riot staged an unauthorized performance inside Russia’s main cathedral, railing against the recently re-elected President Vladimir Putin. Video of their "punk prayer" went viral, and their subsequent arrest raised an international outcry, with notable figures like Madonna and Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi calling for their release.

Erik Jonsson

This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year’s True/False Festival.  Find the rest of them here or download the podcast on iTunes.

Ushio Shinohara was a “rowdy, confrontational" young artist, seemed destined for fame after moving to New York City in the late 1960’s. He hung out with Warhol. He’d been part of Japan’s post-war avant-garde movement, most well-known as the “boxing painter,” for his exhibitionist art where he would dip his cloth-bound hands in ink, and punch his way down a canvas. But his full potential was never realized.

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