Rough Cut Retreat

When you google something and nothing comes up, does it exist? Apparently not.

This Summer I toiled over a secret new True/False initiative: Rough Cut Retreat. Catapult Film Fund, a grant organization based in the Bay Area that supports documentary storytellers in the inception stage of a project, teamed up with T/F to produce a four day retreat high in the hills of Calistoga California. Think Mediterranean climates, monstrous jack rabbits, blankets of hummingbirds, a chilled screening room and tons of talent, all poolside with a Summer Camp vibe.

Five documentary film projects, at or nearing rough cut stage, mustered up the courage to share with us their new, beautiful and wildly different endeavors. From enigmatic dream poems beating within the heart of Istanbul, to intimate portraits of African Americans coming of age, the projects all hummed with vibrancy and potential: the room felt downright electric.

An instant community was born up on that hill as conversations filled the arid air. Dialogue began in a group discussion following each screening but quickly spilled out onto the landscape; in the pool, on a hike, over meals and, hopefully, beyond. Both True/False and Catapult did what I think they do best: foster community, create discourse, and promote vital projects for and about this strange and beautiful world. I don't know the future of Rough Cut Retreat but I do know that this experience was infused with a caring artistic integrity that reminded me of why I choose to do this work. As we roll into Winter and the fostered projects begin to find premiers it is only making me more proud to have helped produce this clandestine event.



Donna K. lives in the Midwest and on the internet. Mostly she writes about her interest in the offline world.