Once a year, for a full four days, Columbia becomes a haven for filmmakers, musicians, artists and fans. Churches become temporary theaters, Kaldi’s Coffee brings out their special True/False blend, and people stand in line to see films that have often premiered at Sundance. It’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
This year, I had the opportunity to watch Sonita, among other films. Directed by Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami, the film revealed Sonita’s journey of becoming a female Afghan rapper, which her family does not support. Instead, her parents want to marry her off to an older rich man so that they can afford to buy a bride for Sonita’s older brother.
As the film progresses, she and her friend go to studio after studio trying to get a recording deal, and they are turned away more than once. But that doesn’t stop Sonita. She perseveres and, with the help of the filmmaker, produces her first music video, which goes viral. Eventually, Sonita lands a spot at a music program in Utah, and it’s a happy ending.
But then, things got even better.
The screen went dark, and a spotlight appeared on the stage at Jesse Auditorium. Then a small figure emerged from the left side of the stage.
I watched Sonita perform LIVE. And it was unreal.
The music started up, and she began rapping one of the songs I had seen her work on during the film. There was an incredible energy pouring from her, and I think it inspired everyone in the room.
The audience stood up, some clapping, others whistling or taking Snapchats. An older lady a couple seats over from me started sniffling.
True/False Film Fest is a magical time, not just because of the films or the music. It reminds us how crazy our dreams can be, and shows us how achievable they actually are.