Tomorrow, January 4, the nonfiction showcase True/False will present the Chicago premiere of the documentary Thy Father’s Chair (2015) at the Music Box Theatre, two months ahead of the annual True/False Film Fest in Columbia, Missouri. The Chicago-based instrumental band Mar Caribe will kick off the event at 7 PM with a 30-minute set; and a screening of the documentary short Balloonfest, directed by Nathan Truesdell, will be shown before Thy Father’s Chair.
A chamber piece that speaks to the festival’s nearly 14-year history of spotlighting complex and empathic nonfiction films, Thy Father’s Chair focuses on elderly Orthodox Jewish twins as they deal with professional cleaners hired to tidy up their shambolic Brooklyn apartment. Antonio Tibaldi, who codirected the documentary with Àlex Lora, will attend the event and participate in a postfilm conversation.
“Thy Father’s Chair is one of our favorite films from T/F 2016,” says Paul Sturtz, one of the cofounders of True/False. “It’s an immersive, intimate film that exemplifies the kind of observational approach that T/F champions. This kind of fly-on-the-wall film is incredible hard to pull off, and so when filmmakers succeed like this, we feel incredibly grateful.”
Sturtz adds that T/F chose the documentary for the Music Box event because of how it illustrates the festival’s aesthetic. “Our festival doesn’t choose films because they blare, ‘We’re important!'” he says, “but because they surprise us with their significance.”
“In this case,” he continues, “Thy Father’s Chair would seem to be a sensationalist film about hoarders. Instead, it becomes something much bigger, having to do with love and acceptance, and whether human beings have a capacity for change.”
Tapping Mar Caribe as T/F’s traditional prefilm “busking” set also was an aesthetic choice—the band will play a reliably eclectic blend of spaghetti western theme music, surf, and country as the theater fills up.
“Mar Caribe is opening because they strike us as a particularly cinematic band, with a wide range of instrumentals,” Sturtz explains. “Also, my Chicago friends Mark Messing (Mucca Pazza) and Gabe Williams said we should reach out to them, and I do what they say.”
Balloonfest, which centers on a bizarre balloon-releasing ritual in Cleveland, also screened at the 2016 Chicago International Film Festival as part of the documentary series Shorts 6: It’s All True.
“It’s a satirical, jaw-dropping film about civic pride gone amok,” Sturtz says. “It’s my favorite new short, and it plays well with the feature because they’re both about combing through detritus, and they share a dark sense of humor.”
To purchase tickets to the event, visit musicboxtheatre.com/events/thy-fathers-chair-presented-by-the-true-false-film-fest. To learn more about the 2017 True/False Film Fest, March 2-5 in downtown Columbia, visit truefalse.org.