This weekend, my husband and I headed to Columbia, Missouri, for the True/False Film Festival.
For the uninitiated, True/False is a documentary festival. It has grown from a tiny upstart in 2004 to an highly regarded event featuring more than 42 films, more than 100 screenings, and more than 40,000 ticket sales.
The last time either of was able to attend was our last year of college in 2007, when we got free tickets to a couple of films through the journalism school. Through four years in Idaho and one in Omaha, I’ve watched True/False grow from afar. It’s changed massively in that time, and I was eager to get back.
Even in those early years, the films we saw at T/F were wonderful, so I had high expectations going in. They were all met. The festival was a blast — well run, stocked with documentaries that had people buzzing at every restaurant where we stopped to get a bite to eat, and brimming with the optimistic, DIY spirit that makes T/F great.
For the past couple of weeks, I’ve struggled with a serious funk. I’d been having a hard time feeling inspired, motivated, or really anything but discouraged and lethargic. A weekend at T/F was the perfect antidote. Even though we only had time to spend two days at the festival and hit seven films, it was an emotional roller coaster that magically left me feeling fortified and encouraged. Even better, the new sights, sounds and issues that have been occupying my brain for the past few days has gotten me mentally revved up again.
There was plenty to be inspired by in the subjects of the films themselves, but I’m also always struck by the courage, passion, and plain old hard work that it takes to make a captivating documentary. Some of my favorites this year included Blackfish, Twenty Feet from Stardom, and The Moo Man. If you get a chance to see any of them, I can’t recommend it highly enough.
And even if you can’t make it to a whole weekend of documentary excellence, filling your brain with new sights, sounds and mental stimulation is a great way to get that creativity rolling after you’ve stalled out. Go to a museum, see a concert, read a book that’s out of your comfort zone. Or hunt down a documentary — I guarantee it will change your perspective.