Independent films sometimes get a bad rep: people often assume that what makes a film “indie” is that its just weird, artsy stuff (like a film that’s just a camera recording the Empire State Building in real-time for 8 hours). But basically an indie film is just a film that isn’t made by one of the big Hollywood studios. And man, are there some amazing indie films that have been released this year.
I thought that today I would share a few of my recommendations for some independent films that you should check out this year. Each one is unique and has something amazing to offer, fulfilling a variety of entertainment needs. So whether you like fairy tales/romances, suspenseful thrillers, or monster movies, check out my list below (in no particular order) of indie films to check out in 2016!
Shin Godzilla (aka Godzilla Resurgence)
This is a reboot of the Godzilla franchise, and it is sooooo much better than the 2014 US reboot. Hollywood seems to struggle with just letting a film be about a central idea (Giant monsters attacking Tokyo!) and always has to force in other story lines to “keep the audience interested” (I can only think of a handful of major Hollywood films that don’t somehow involve a love story).
Directed by the creator of Neon Genesis Evangelion, this film seems to truly capture the “reality” of modern Japan being attacked/invaded by a giant monster. Thoroughly modern while keeping the important elements of the original films (like how Godzilla actually moves), Shin Godzilla is an interesting look at the behind the scenes workings of Japan during a monster attack.
My hope is that it will eventually be dubbed into English, but even with the subtitles, it’s still a fun watch.
This was a super fun one! The first of many examples of indie films being completely different from what you are expecting them to be.
Tam Cam: The Untold Story is a 21st century retelling of Vietnam’s answer to Cinderella. It’s based on the Vietnamese fairy tale, with some interesting plot twists thrown in. There are crazy old-kung-fu-movie style fight scenes, amazing views of Vietnam’s forests and mountains, and an extremely enjoyable cast of secondary characters.
I will say though, if you are unfamiliar with this story (like I was) I recommend that you read a summary of the basic fairy tale, just to help you understand the backbone of the story. There are so many other story elements going on, that the movie won’t be ruined by the fact that you know whether or not the girl marries the prince.
Headshot is an Indonesian film that is one beautifully choreographed fight scene after another. The plot is lacking and the acting is pretty wooden, but honestly you watch this movie for the fights not for the story. It features a variety of fight styles/types (guns, knives, office supplies, etc.) and a good part of the movie takes place in the beautiful jungles of Indonesia.
WARNING: This is NOT the movie for you if you get easily upset/sick when you see blood on screen. Because holy shit is this a violent movie. Like, it makes Quentin Tarantino look tame. You’ve been warned, but you should still give it a watch.
I’ll be honest, I walked into this film assuming it would just be an Australian version of Blue is the Warmest Color. Just another tragic lesbian story, that just leaves you feeling kind of hopeless about love and the world. Boy was I glad to be so incredibly wrong!
Bad Girl is probably one of the best suspense thrillers I’ve seen in several years. You start the film thinking it’s going to follow a certain, cliched path but then it just keeps twisting and turning. I’m afraid to even try and tell you more about the plot, because I’d hate to spoil it for you. If you can get your hands on a showing of this film, you simply must watch it!
The cool part about this film for me was the fact that the BIFF showing had a Q&A with the director and producer after the movie. They said that the film will hopefully be released in Korea in March of 2017, so fingers crossed for that.
Daguerrotype is a joint French-Japanese suspense/horror film. Which was a really surprising combination when I first heard about it, but honestly it worked out amazingly. This film combines the best of French cinematography (I seriously love what French directors do with their blocking and camera angles) and Japanese horror (think of the original Ring and Ju-On: The Grudge, rather than their American remakes).
French movies, in my opinion, like to make (read: force) you to think while you watch them. So, unlike most American horror films, don’t expect the music in this movie to let you know when something is about to happen. The director just leaves you in silence, constantly wondering what will happen next to break the tension and what is real or imagined within the film.
The great part about indie films is they usually break free from the established patterns that Hollywood can’t seem to get away from, and Daguerrotype certainly leaves you guessing right up to when the credits start rolling. So sit back with a glass of wine and watch as the story unfolds.
So there you have it! My 2016 indie film recommendations from this year’s BIFF film selection. I know that indie films aren’t for everyone, but it’s always good to get out of your comfort zone and try something new. Who knows, you could discover a new passion or find a new favorite director.
Do you enjoy watching indie films? Have you seen any of the films on this list? Do you have any other films that you think the world should know about? Let me know in the comments section!