An independent (indie) film is essentially a movie that is produced outside the major studio system. Due to the proliferation of inexpensive, high-end digital film equipment, new filmmakers are no longer at the mercy of Hollywood studios. Indie films typically play the film festival circuit to get noticed by film distributors. Sundance still remains the most prestigious film festival in the world. If you’re lucky enough to get accepted at Sundance and your film gets enough buzz, it can jumpstart your career as a director.
Indie films are the reason that I got involved with film criticism. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good popcorn film but the style and artistry of indie films make them more powerful and endearing. They allow the filmmaker to realize their personal artistic vision. This is quite often lost once a director gets hired by a major movie studio and is responsible for a big-budget commercial film. Another reason why indie films are so much fun is that you get to discover emerging talent like Jennifer Lawrence in 2010’s ‘Winter’s Bone’ or this year’s indie darling Shailene Woodley in ‘The Spectacular Now.’
This year was a mediocre summer for major Hollywood studio movies. Steven Spielberg even warned that the film industry will implode. He’s talking about movies with budgets over $100 million. Independent films are not affected by Mr. Spielberg’s foreboding message. Indie films are alive and kicking. Some of the best films this summer were indie films. Here is a list of my top ten indie films of 2013. If you missed any of them, many are now available for rental on DVD and digital download.