Steven Moerschel tries to fool the judges

When it comes down to it, the True/False Film Fest is actually a four-day party. This year fans had a chance to view about 30 feature-length documentaries, many with heady subjects like Magic Mountain, a film from the Eurasian country Georgia that chronicled life in a tuberculosis sanatorium; and Alien Island where a Chilean filmmaker documented how benevolent aliens supposedly healed a cancer sufferer on an isolated island.

There were also showings of about 25 short films, many also of a serious nature, but there was also plenty of levity in these. So folks hopped from one venue to another to see these films, also being entertained by musicians who performed before and between films. Appearing were an esoteric group of players including harpist Ruth Acuff, Latin troubadour Daniel Villarreal, funky Balkan group Gora Gora Orkestar, Austin-based rockers Good Looks, Thao Nguyen of Thao & the Get Down Stay Down fame and John Randall and Andy Rehm from Missouri’s own Hooten Hallers.

There were late night showcases at several of Columbia’s favorite nightclubs too, and numerous parties with music, food and booze. But for all the non-stop fun, the most anticipated True/False event was Gimme Truth!

Gimme Truth! has a simple premise. Eight two-minute documentaries, all made by Columbia area filmmakers, are shown – with some of them being “real” while the subjects of others are completely made up. The audience and a three-person panel of judges tries to guess which is which. And that’s where things get rowdy! As it has been for years, Gimme Truth! was hosted by funnyman Brian Babylon, famed for the hilarity he brings to NPR’s Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! 

Host Brian Babylon

Drinking on stage (as were the judges and most of the audience) Babylon peppered his hosting duties with lots of salty language and wry commentary, loving it when he got a loud reaction from the audience. On the judge’s panel were Jazmin Jones, director of Seeking Mavis Beacon; Armel Hostiou, director of The Other Profile; and Arun Bhattarai, co-director of Agent of Happiness. They were able to ask the directors of the shorts one question each, trying to pry clues out of them as to each film’s veracity.

The audience played along and it wasn’t so easy to put a true or false label on films like Resting Peace, about a mom and pop pet cemetery — or Being Assertive, about a young man who had problems trying to do his laundry for free. Ultimately with the audience shouting out their guesses at the top of their lungs and the judges holding up cards marked T or F, the director revealed the answer.

Gimme Truth! took place at The Blue Note, one of Columbia’s most popular music venues, and the audience left the room in a giddy mood after being thoroughly entertained. The late night event happened on the festival’s penultimate evening.

Colorful characters at Gimme Truth!
Cat Meagher answers a question
Gimme Truth! judges cast their votes

Those who wish to attend the True/False Film Fest and Gimme Truth! in 2025 will have lots of ticketing options, everything from tickets to see individual films to a variety of passes that allow for entry to multiple films and special events will be on offer.