Thursday, June 27th, 2019
Indie films have always somewhat held credit as niche pieces of art which tend to be more tailored towards the critic and the much-before-their-time film student. Slight exaggeration? Of course that was, but the sentiment remains true. Indie films by definition break away from the structure and format most audiences know as the one true cinema. Take a film such as Moonrise Kingdom (2012) then compare to the gargantuan title of Avengers: Endgame (2019). The two are incomparable and for most the former gets forgotten and the latter reaches high acclaim. It seems that for the longest time actors at the peak of their career matched with a huge budget and an impressive marketing campaign can sway audiences away from ever seeing smaller-scale, more beautifully written and more meaningful stories. It’s a whole remit of art which can be redacted and worse ignored from people’s lives.
At times Indie films are able to bring to the screen a greater sense of relatability and empathy that larger blockbusters just fail to conjure. The authentic mother-daughter relationship in Lady Bird (2017), the tantalising seduction in The Neon Demon (2016) and the bizarre fantasy of Mullholland Drive (2001) are to name just three ultimately unique features that only Indie films can possess.
Fortunately with the multitude of viewing platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime and the competition they have triggered, Indie films have been able to take much more prevalence in our homes over the last few years. Huge blockbusters require time and money in order to churn out two-hour, CGI laden performances whereas Indie films can sometimes be produced from script to screen in a much more tolerable timeframe and can fill the void between the release of Marvel’s next escapade. Think back to Alice Lowe’s Prevenge (2016) which took under two weeks to film. It is stories like this and the greater availability of films in our homes that is helping Indie films soar in popularity this year and ultimately in some cases overtake the giant blockbuster.
Performance wise take two recent, yet decidedly different films The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018) and Godzilla: King of Monsters (2019). Unsurprisingly the budget for the two films could not be any more different with the Titan king taking the embarrassing lead yet comparing how the films were received tells another tale. It seems that audiences may just be warming more and more to down-to-Earth, relatable stories rather than perplexing, and sometimes confusing epics – impressive CGI can only take a film so far, it’s not a substitute for story depth! Possibly because Indie films are much more frequent and more accessible to most individuals their once mystery and qualification shrouding whom the niche individuals the film was intended for has dissolved and so has the perception of said films.
As of May 2019 a standard Netflix subscription in the UK costs £7.99 per month, probably now £8.99 at the time of reading this article. The multitude of available content is mind-boggling with a diverse range of just about every film fathomable. A noticeable portion of the films available on a subscription are Indie films and those with smaller budgets. To name just a few that come to mind: Under The Skin (2013), Frances Ha (2012), Wind River (2017), Roma (2018), OKJA (2017) and The Meyerowitz Stories (2017). Interestingly enough what do all of these films have in common? They all had a large reception and received critical acclaim at one of the large international film festivals. It seems that it isn’t just streaming services which are helping Indie films from becoming more accessible to the public, it’s being pushed from the pinnacle of film critique and the celebrity faces behind some of them.
2019 is proving to be one of the most promising years in recent times for the release of Indie films across all platforms. We’ve already been hypnotised by Jordan Peele’s Us (2019): a follow-up to his impressive debut feature and the talent in Wild Rose (2019). There is the artistic The Lighthouse (2019) to look forward to later this year and the mastermind that is The Perfection (2019) currently streaming on Netflix. Midsommar (2019) the latest creation from Ari Aster is just around the corner as well as the beautiful Aquarela (2019). This year truly is a delight for Indie cinema and we should all take advantage of the impressive range that’s currently available before it’s too late. Who knows what 2020 will bring.
By John Cheshire
Posted in: News