A Truly Great Month for Festivals

True/False in Columbia, Missouri, and Red Dirt in Stillwater offer thumbs-up events.

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Logan. Photo by Ben Rothstein.

Logan. Photo by Ben Rothstein.

Around Town

What if I told you one of the country’s best film festivals happens every year just one state over from Oklahoma? Well, it’s true: The True/False Film Festival celebrates its 14th year of existence from March 2-5 in Columbia, Missouri – a not too bad drive of five and a half hours from Tulsa. It’s worth every minute of the commute, as True/False highlights the best of nonfiction filmmaking from around the world. Pushing at the limits of what’s considered documentary, the festival encourages experimentation and risk-taking, to great ends – in the last three years, my favorite film of the year has been one I’ve seen first at True/False.

High school sophomores file into the Missouri Theatre to watch The Bad Kids. Photo by Noah Frick-Alofs

High school sophomores file into the Missouri Theatre to watch The Bad Kids. Photo by Noah Frick-Alofs

Even better, the festival feels like one big party – festive, but intimate. All the venues are within walking distance of each other, and Columbia, a college town, provides plenty of bells and whistles. Each screening features music beforehand from the (often offbeat) bands that come to busk at the festival, and audience feedback and participation are highly encouraged in all areas of the festival. Simply put, it’s a heck of a film festival and a great way to get away for a weekend. For more information, visit truefalse.org.

For an international film festival a bit closer to home, check out the Red Dirt Film Festival, which runs from March 2-5 at the Oklahoma State University Campus in Stillwater. The festival, which is celebrating its fourth year, features films, music, panels and parties. For more information, visit reddirtfilm.com.

In Theaters

March looks to be a good month for movies about humans with rather animalistic impulses. At the beginning of the month, James Mangold’s Logan will wrap up the Wolverine franchise, at least with Hugh Jackman on board as the wisecracking mutant. The films that feature Wolverine apart from his X-Men coworkers have been uneven at best, but this iteration appears more mature, and will hopefully provide a satisfying ending to Jackman’s iconic run as the character.

For families, Disney’s live action Beauty and the Beast comes along mid-month. Sure, it appears to be a nearly scene-for-scene (and song-for-song) remake of the animated version, but that’s not worrisome since that movie is Disney’s greatest modern achievement, and a stellar cast (Dan Stevens, Emma Watson, Emma Thompson, and many more) should keep the film feeling fresh, even 25 years after the fact.

Being There. Photo courtesy The Criterion Collection.

Being There. Photo courtesy The Criterion Collection.

At Home

In the current political climate, it’s either comforting or discouraging to remember that many of our contemporary issues have played out in the past as well. This month the Criterion Collection re-releases Hal Ashby’s prescient 1979 comedy Being There, which features a man raised only by television rising through the ranks of the power elite. It’s a scathing satire anchored by an incredible Peter Sellers performance in the lead role and game supporting performances by Shirley McClaine and Melvyn Douglas.

Expelled from his home after the death of his employer, guileless Chance the Gardener (also known as Chauncey Gardiner) sets off on his own, only to be quickly adopted by a dying, wealthy man who imagines Chance’s blank naivete to be a sign of brilliance. Chance gains more and more influence, even though his only skill is repeating cliches he has learned on TV. Sellers’s blank stares and Ashby’s crisp direction make this a satire played for bone dry, and still timely, laughs.

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