Over the span of 20 years, Columbia, Missouri has become a mandatory stop on the festival circuit, largely as a place to discover new voices and fresh expressions of the evolving creative nonfiction genre at True/False Film Fest. But at True/False, it isn’t just about the movies—art and music lovers also find boundary-pushing artists across (and between) genres.

This article is presented in partnership with The True/False Film Fest.

Photo Courtesy of the True/False Film Fest

This year, the festival’s theme THIS IS A TEST inspires wildly diverse interpretations displayed in over 20 art installations and exhibitions around downtown Columbia. For one piece, artists Carrie Elliot and Esther Stroh partner with Columbia Art League to quilt a tapestry created by volunteers and community members. In keeping with the 2023 theme, the quilt is created from multiple techniques—embroidery, applique, and batik. “Community Thread” will be on display beyond the festival weekend at Columbia Art League, February 28 through March 24.

An installation featured at the Fest this year is “Warning Stones” by artist Philip Gresham. Referencing the Czech Hunger Stones, Japanese Tsunami Stones, and the proposed Long Term Nuclear Waste Warning Messages (as well as common gravestones), these sculptural pieces are built to represent the lithic ways in which humanity has sent messages of warning and mourning up from the past. Using light, temporary materials, the resultant stone of these works resides in the viewer’s mind as a cautionary message of the dangers that human industry poses to the environment and our collective future.

Photo Courtesy of the True/False Film Fest

Live musical performances before every one of the weekend’s screenings put the word “festive” in festival. It’s a unique opportunity to see performers in a theater setting, sometimes in a very intimate way. Concerts are also held throughout the Fest at local music venues and nontraditional spaces such as chapels and galleries. Live music is performed at every party/event and DJs and performers echo into the night. These industry-famous parties are transformative in reimagined spaces—music halls, theater venues, artist studios, sidewalks, and virtual campfires alike.

“There’s a genuinely folksy quality to True/False with its agreeably ragged downtown parade and diverse buskers who perform before each show…I remain enamored by True/False’s combination of discerning taste and winning modesty…For four days (Columbia) has the collegial spirit of a really fun, stimulating sleepover.” —Tim Grierson, Paste Magazine

The 20th True/False runs March 2-5, 2023 in venues across downtown Columbia. The weekend is filled with films, concerts, immersive art installations, and parties. Passes for every type of Festgoer are available at true false.org. How are YOU going to Fest?

Photo Courtesy of the True/False Film Fest