Day care program extended to children of visiting filmmakers, artists and musicians

Missouri United Methodist childcare

Article from Columbia Daily Tribune by Brittany Ruess

Husband and wife duo Matt Smith and Emily Tracy-Smith are regular volunteers with the True/False Film Fest.

Matt Smith worked on pre-festival setup this year while Emily Tracy-Smith will operate the Picturehouse Theater. Their weekend is dedicated to performing their duties for the festival, and hopefully catching a film or two, but the couple's involvement might not have been feasible without the True/False child care services.

Emily Tracy-Smith dropped off her child, five-year-old Asa Smith, Thursday afternoon at the Missouri United Methodist Church, where True/False's day care, The Cradle, is located.

"I basically live here for the weekend," Emily Tracy-Smith said, referring to the church, where Picturehouse Theater also is housed. She is in her ninth year volunteering.

The annual film festival has offered child care services in the past, but expanded its initiative this year, offering child care to visiting filmmakers, artists and musicians through a partnership with Kickstarter. The partnership is designed to offset child care costs and allow people, female filmmakers in particular, to fully immerse themselves in the festival — by presenting their films, connecting with other filmmakers and celebrating documentaries.

Kickstarter "was looking for a unique way to convey their mission, which is to support innovation broadly and for filmmakers, specifically women," said Holly Smith-Berry, True/False's sponsorship director.

She said female filmmakers oftentimes create their first film and are starting a family by the time they are ready to release another. For female filmmakers, Smith-Berry said the child care services will allow them to participate in activities to help increase their success — engaging with the audience, answering questions and encouraging other work — while their children are cared for.

The Cradle will handle 16 to 18 children, but not all at once. Nancy Cooper, children's and family life leader with the church, said no more than 10 children will be cared for at once. The church is providing volunteers in addition to those from True/False, and each volunteer goes through a background check and training, and must provide two references to be considered.

The Atelier, a Columbia-based children's arts studio, is providing creative educational programming at the day care that coincides with the festival's theme, "Out of the Ether." Kara Hook, owner and co-director of The Atelier, set up a water bin filled with water beads for sensory stimulation. Volunteers also were creating cardboard buildings, or "Cardboard City," for children to paint and decorate. A dress-up station and photo booth also will be at the day care.

"I think it's great that we can come here and help out the filmmakers' kids and just get the kids involved in a different way than traditional babysitting would be," said Allison Moller, 17, who is volunteering at The Cradle. "They can play with the costumes and 'Cardboard City' and truly get involved and feel like they're part of True/False festival weekend even though they're not physically there with their parents."

Hook will lead an art class Saturday and her husband and co-director of The Atelier, Benjamin Hook, will host a music session Sunday.

In the spirit of True/False, the children also will work on an animated movie using 16 mm film. Hook said there's no premise for the film and the children will be allowed to organically create it.

"We're just going to let them go loose," she said.

Smith-Berry said True/False hopes to showcase the children's animated film through Facebook and other platforms.

Photographer Sarah Bell contributed to this report.