AMERICAN INDIE GO!

Films such as “The Black Swan” or the more recent one “Drive” can certainly be considered samples of independent American cinema. Their creators had to take great risks in order to make them and had to endure a great deal of pressure in order to win, in the end, the trust of both audience and critics.  

However, there is also another independent cinema. The one that owes its existence to digital technology (even if some filmmakers fanatically insist on film – even the cheap one of 16mm) and the creative freedom that it offers. Movies that cost no more than a blockbuster’s single shot are released in very few cinemas while some of them get discovered years later.

Call it DIY or call it Indie, reject it or embrace it as hip, this cinema has got voice and substance. From the crowdfunded Girl Walk: All Day, that managed to raise more than 20.000 dollars while it also contributed to the hipster generation (and beyond) a new musical genre, up to Lena Dunham’s Tiny Furniture, which positioned on the map a director who stunned viewers and critics with the series Girls (HBO), this filmmaking can be but valuable

 

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The real father of independent cinema in America is John Cassavetes who, in 1959, with his film “Shadows” contributed a bebop diamond and proved that cinema can relate to real and recognizable people, and that it exists in order to pose questions and demonstrate problems, but not necessarily to provide solutions (something that some people, quite erroneously, expect from a piece of art).Beyond Cassavete’s gruff filmmaking, young American directors also owe a lot to the French Nouvelle Vague as well as to directors like Jean Luc Godard, Francois Truffaut and Jacques Demy who, winking at their audience, proved that when it comes to filmmaking, anything goes. Even more directly, the thing that urged many of the young ones to buy the first camera they found and roam the streets had been the outburst of independent cinema during the 80s and the 90s, directors such as Jim Jarmusch, Quentin Tarantino, Hal Hartley and Richard Linklater, as well as producers like Harvey Weinstein, who believed that a different kind of cinema is not only possible but also necessary.

I am not sure whether friends make history but they definitely make cinema. It is in this way that American directors work nowadays as they either don’t want or can’t count on big studios. No matter where you look in the American cinematic landscape you will see groups and collectives.From directors of the mumblecore genre which appeared in the beginning of the millennium and recorded the everyday words of ordinary heroes, up to the Court 13 Collective which gave us the Beasts of the Southern Wild and made it to the Oscars, cinema is certainly a collective thing and in America they seem to have realized this years now.Digital technology has certainly helped but a main factor has been the creators’ need for expression, the eagerness and the “here-and-now” of many – cinema-crazed – young people who demand that the films speak their language and embraces their joys and impasses.They have transferred filmmaking from the studios to their homes and their favourite streets. They are creators that stay away from vain declarations, who do not necessarily want to change the world nor cinema. They just claim a cinema that relates to them. A cinema that’s their very own and it happens now. 

                                                                                                                                                                  Yannis Korres

 

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