No matter who you are, you probably have a favorite movie that’s close to your heart and has changed your life. Whether it taught you to think differently, shaped your view of the world, or felt understood like no one else before, many films are cornerstones of our time on this earth. Indie movies, in particular, hold a special place among moviegoers’ arsenal of favorites. In general, independent films refer to any feature film or short film made without funding from a major studio or production company. They can also often be referred to as “alternative cinema” and include everything from documentaries to experimental films to animations.
We’ve all enjoyed our fair share of escapist movies that are great for buttering popcorn and screaming at the screen with mindless rage (we’re looking at you, Marvel). So what distinguishes independent films from these works of art? Simply put, without the oversight of a big company, independent filmmakers can have a more hands-on approach in terms of the story they want to tell, as well as the style and tone of the project. Plus, they have the freedom to delve into difficult subjects and complex issues that mainstream films often can’t afford for fear of limiting widespread appeal. Most big budget production companies won’t spend time making a movie about a demonic-looking rabbit named Frank who travels back in time to tell a troubled teenager that the world is going to end in 28 days, or emulate the quality of a 90s camcorder that three film students use to make a documentary about getting lost in the woods in search of the exiled witch from a small town. For many of these movies, it’ll be hard to try to tie a pretty knot around its meaning or moral – most of them just remind us that this world is a scary, fucked up place.
Being allowed to take risks and tackle more controversial things, indie films have a knack for resonating deeply with audiences, lingering in their minds long after the end credits roll. It can be both good and bad, as it forces viewers to really reflect on the uglier, more realistic parts of the human condition that are often too much to bear. The depictions of heroin and amphetamine addiction in “Requiem for a Dream” are not for the faint of heart, nor are the lengths a young couple is willing to go to forget each other in “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”. Other films are less heartbreaking in their delivery while still being just as powerful, such as the portrayal of feelings of loneliness and dissatisfaction with life at any age seen in “Lost in Translation.” Often what ties these films together is the pervasive search for happiness and human connection.
With such a large selection of independent films having unprecedented impacts on our lives, it’s not uncommon to want to keep fragments of them on our bodies, to remind us that life has a meaning much deeper than we could never imagine, while making a lot of sense at all. Was there ever a movie that made you feel that way, and would you like to commemorate it with a stain on your skin?