Driven by a desire to bring nonfiction film into new spaces and create fresh dialogue, The Alethea Project grew out of a unique ten-year partnership between the True/False Film Fest and The Crossing, a theologically conservative church in Columbia, Missouri.
In 2009, True/False unveiled the True Life Fund: a crowd-sourced award to honor the subject(s) of a single documentary, sponsored by The Crossing. Described in depth by Christianity Today and the New York Times, the True Life Fund allowed these surprising partners to find common values and build a framework of trust and cooperation that benefitted both.
True/False, in collaboration with The Crossing, and with support from Impact Partners and Bertha Foundation, launched The Alethea Project: a never-before-attempted documentary screening series. The project screened recent nonfiction films – mostly from the True/False catalog – in the fall of 2018, with topics that invited robust post-screening discussions among filmmakers, a moderator, and a church representative. Film topics include race in America, climate change, refugees and immigration, healthcare and health crises, the death penalty, guns in America, and gender. In a companion session, filmmakers offer a youth-oriented discussions on what it means to be a documentary filmmaker today.
America’s ideological divide is stark: citizens learn of news from increasingly specialized outlets, facts are under attack, and conversations focus less on conversing and more on talking past one another or raising voices. Yet we know, still, there are moments when stories and experiences overlap. There is no major U.S. film festival that enjoys as rich a partnership with a large Christian church as True/False – and this relationship is evidence of these moments of overlap. In the past 15 years, True/False has grown from an idea to, as LA Times cultural critic Steve Zeitchik said in 2017, “the most important documentary festival in America.” The Crossing has seen unparalleled growth among churches in Columbia and has assumed a prominent role in the evangelical community in the region. We hope, through the Alethea Project, to offer a model for other organizations – both religious and secular – to engage in fruitful collaboration.