TF CROSSING UPDATE NEIMAN
COLUMBIA - The True/False Film Fest found itself needing another source of funding after cutting ties with one of its biggest sponsors in recent months.
The Crossing Church donated $40,000 to True/False in 2019 alone, according to an article in Vox Magazine. Fest organizers severed that connection in October.
The change came after Pastor Keith Simon gave a sermon questioning gender dysphoria, labeling transgender people as, "broken." The pair had worked together for 10 years, a relationship True/False described as "the least likely sponsorship in history" in the press release announcing its decision to disaffiliate.
The sermon left the LGBTQ community reeling and sparked an immediate Change.org petition for a boycott of True/False until it cut-ties with the church. The petition garnered 1,158 signatures, and True/False announced less than a week later it would discontinue all affiliations with the church.
The Crossing later addressed the sermon and issued an apology to those it offended.
In an interview with KOMU 8 News the week prior to the start of this year's festival, Festival Director Camellia Cosgray said True/False runs each year off of the donations it receives.
"Since we are a 501 c3 non-profit we do of course rely on funding from grants and foundations and sponsors," Cosgray said. "I'll say we need to have the support of our community in order to survive or to thrive."
Cosgray said she believes the festival hasn't changes in the sense of the support it has from the community, and added she feels good about the strength of the organization overall. She also stressed the festival's values as an organization.
"We are just really committed to the idea of open dialogue, and we are really interested in using art in many of its forms- whether that's film or music or visual arts to create that dialogue," Cosgray said.
In an emailed statement, Cosgray said The Crossing's sponsorship made up 1.5% of operational costs and the sponsorship team had a major amount of work cut out for them. She said, in the end, the team was able to exceed the goals of the festival even without The Crossing's sponsorship.
The Crossing specifically sponsored the True Life Fund, an effort that raises money for the subjects of a new nonfiction film each year. This year's film is Welcome to Chechnya, which confronts an ongoing genocide directed at the LGBTQ+ citizens of the republic of Chechnya.
KOMU 8 reached out to The Crossing via email and by phone and didn't hear back for comment.