Neither/Nor at True/False

With all the reports filtering back Eastward from the 2013 True/False Film Festival in Columbia, MO as a non-eyewitness I can’t really pin down what happened out there, between the game shows, parades, parties and secret screenings and the festival’s commitment to questioning the genre line between fact and fiction. Luckily LEF’s Executive Director Lyda Kuth was at True/False to take in all the exciting new work that’s happening and to applaud LEF grantees Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel in being the recipients of the 2013 True Vision Award.

One new element of the festival that caught our attention at LEF was the Neither/Nor screening series, launched this year to provide “a historical overview of films that explore and/or break free of the dubious dichotomy of fact and fiction.” The series makes a selection of works that are outside of the fact/fiction divide – films that can be called “Chimeras” after the mythological figure made up of different animal parts.

Neither/Nor is a partnership between True/False and the Ragtag Cinema, underwritten by the National Endowment for the Arts, and the aim is not only to screen the films, but to give an annual opportunity for a film critic to curate and write about the selected films in a monograph. With critic Eric Hynes 

leading the way in 2013, the series is trying to generate critical dialogue and context revolving around “alluring whatsits,” as True/False programmer Chris Boeckmann calls non-fiction, non-documentary Neither/Nor films in the program foreword.

Classifying what you’ve picked out as the unclassifiable is a tricky undertaking, sure – a lot of ducking and weaving around labels and definitions – but it keeps things interesting. This is a cool idea for an ongoing series and a smart way for True/False to contextualize its mission.

At LEF we have eyes forward on new work, but of course it’s important to talk about how cinema history informs and challenges filmmakers working now; as part of that ongoing discussion LEF sponsored the Facing Realities screening series back in 2008, which paired Boston filmmakers of different generations in dialogue with one another. Legacy screenings are part of The DocYard as well; on April 8 there will be a DocYard screening of Ricky On Leacock, a documentary about the life of Richard Leacock by Jane Wiener. As a pioneer of sync-sound 16mm technology, Leacock helped make possible low-budget and personal filmmaking, filmed out in the real world with hand-held cameras – conditions that make the experimentation seen in the Neither/Nor program possible.

Leacock is one of the directors featured in the 2013 program, which focused on “Chimeric Cinema, New York City 1967-1968.” The films are Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One (William Greaves), 1 P.M. (D.A. Pennebaker, Richard Leacock, Jean-Luc Godard), The Fall (Peter Whitehead) and David Holzmans’ Diary (Jim McBride). They’re unstable films made in a moment of instability, when, as Hynes writes, “everything and everyone seemed to be riding, or even embracing, the edge of things, when films and politics and morality suddenly seemed up for grabs.”

I’m intrigued; it would be great to see the 2013 Neither/Nor films go on tour…

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