Is indie film on its way out?

Over the last few years, the big blockbuster films have taken over our cinema screens. Our Culture & Entertainment editor Katie Green explains why this might mean that the world of independent cinema is slowly disappearing…

The world of independent cinema has always been a whirlwind journey, whether that’s in production or distribution. It is a world for the high-aspiring film makers who wish to be the next big director on the scene. First you would piece together your film and put all your savings into it – taking a big risk, of course.

Then you send it to the one place every independent film maker sets out to start their career: Sundance Film Festival. However, due to the unfortunate events of this year events like Sundance have unfortunately been cancelled. This leaves independent film makers with nowhere to display their features.

This raises the question if independent cinema has a place in film anymore as the most successful films tend to be the big box office hits. When the cinemas were closed, this meant these up and coming box office hits would either be delayed, or they could be shown on a streaming service such as Netflix. However, for indie films they weren’t shown anywhere.

Not only is there no way to showcase these films, but these films showcased at an independent film festival like Sundance are not as successful as they previously were all those years ago. Some of the better successes from the festival in the last few years include The Farewell (2019), Eighth Grade (2018) and even Taylor Swift’s documentary Miss Americana (2019) – later played on Netflix.

What makes an independent film great is that it is a film produced in its own unique style and you can tell that whenever you watch one. Unlike a blockbuster film, they are perhaps not as big budgeted, but that doesn’t make them any less entertaining. Something you do notice with indie films is the plot.

Whenever I watch an indie film, they tend to be an out of the ordinary storyline, but this is what makes an independent film even better because they are far away from the predictable storylines that you expect from the box office films.

Although it may appear independent film is on its way out, this doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate some of the best indie films that have been previously released.

Top 5 independent films

5. Easy A

Emma Stone stars as high school student Olive who lies to her best friend about losing her virginity to a college boy. However, the lie spirals out of control and it only leads to a whole string of lies, leaving Olive marked with an A – just like the book she is studying The Scarlett Letter.

The film received positive reviews upon release – especially for Stone’s portrayal of Olive – and not only that but it was a financial success worldwide after grossing $75 million despite only having an $8 million budget.

4. The Perks of Being a Wallflower

This romantic drama tells the story of 15-year-old Charlie – an introvert high school student. Charlie (Logan Lerman) watches life from the side-lines – just like a wallflower – but as he attends his new high school, he becomes good friends with his student mentors Sam (Emma Watson) and her stepbrother (Ezra Miller). They help Charlie to open up and show him what he is missing out on in life.

This film was based on the successful 1999 coming-of-age novel and upon release, it was limited to four theatres in the United States. Worldwide it grossed $228,359 in its first weekend.

3. American Beauty

Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) has the perfect life on the surface. He has the perfect family and a respectable job. However, under the surface, Lester is slipping into a depression and is starting to struggle with his life. The one thing keeping him sane is his new infatuation with his daughter’s friend Angela.

Not only was American Beauty a critical and box office success – after having a $15 million budget and earning $356.3 million – but it went on to earn five Academy Awards including Best Picture.

2. Pulp Fiction

This cult film tells the story of intertwined stories of two deep thinking L.A. mobsters Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson). Other strands of the film include gangster boss Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames) and his wife Mia (Uma Thurman) – as well as boxer Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis) and many others.

With a budget of less than $8.5 million, at the box office it made $213.9 million. However, Pulp Fiction isn’t just a success for its box office figures but for its dialogue which makes it a modern classic. It is one of the most quotable films ever written.

1. The Breakfast Club

The 1985 classic The Breakfast Club takes place as a Saturday detention where five very different high school students with very different views towards life. These students would not be friends, they wouldn’t even be associated with each other. However, after spending hours together they become closer than they thought they would.

Just like other independent films, The Breakfast Club only had a small budget as it was only $1 million. When the film debuted in February 1985, it debuted at number three and grossed $51 million worldwide. The Breakfast Club inspired a wave of coming-of-age films after its release including Pretty in Pink (1986), Some Kind of Wonderful (1987) and Stand By Me (1986).

So even though indie film may seem as if its on its way out, do you think this will be a genre deeply missed in the cinematic world?

By Katie Green

Feature image: New Statesman

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