American Independents

American Independents

31 Episodes

Get outside the mainstream and sample these idiosyncratic visions from the wide world of indie filmmaking.

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American Independents
  • The Bowery

    Episode 1

    Directed by Sara Driver • 1994 • United States

    Produced for the French television series POSTCARDS FROM NEW YORK, this short documentary captures the poetry of the city’s storied skid row before its gentrification.

  • When Pigs Fly

    Episode 2

    Directed by Sara Driver • 1993 • Germany, United States
    Starring Alfred Molina, Marianne Faithfull, Rachael Bella

    A down-and-out jazz musician (Alfred Molina) is launched on a road to redemption when he comes into possession of a rocking chair haunted by two benign ghosts: a formidable middle-ag...

  • You Are Not I

    Episode 3

    Directed by Sara Driver • 1981 • United States
    Starring Suzanne Fletcher, Melody Schneider, Bea Boyle

    A legendary, once-lost landmark of American underground cinema, Sara Driver’s first film was rediscovered in 2008 and has since taken its place as one of the key works of the No Wave filmmaking ...

  • Nothing but a Man

    Episode 4

    Directed by Michael Roemer • 1964 • United States
    Starring Ivan Dixon, Abbey Lincoln, Julius Harris

    Michael Roemer’s groundbreaking first feature, sensitively shot by his close collaborator Robert M. Young, is a still-resonant expression of humanity in the face of virulent prejudice. Made at the...

  • The Plot Against Harry

    Episode 5

    Directed by Michael Roemer • 1969 • United States
    Starring Martin Priest, Ben Lang, Maxine Woods

    A treasure of American independent filmmaking that was neglected for decades until its triumphant rediscovery, writer-director-producer Michael Roemer’s feature follow-up to his landmark NOTHING BUT ...

  • Vengeance Is Mine

    Episode 6

    Directed by Michael Roemer • 1984 • United States
    Starring Brooke Adams, Jon DeVries, Ari Meyers

    Like director Michael Roemer’s prior features—the powerful civil-rights-era landmark NOTHING BUT A MAN and the offbeat mob comedy THE PLOT AGAINST HARRY—this continuously surprising, cuttingly incisi...

  • Hedwig and the Angry Inch

    Episode 7

    Directed by John Cameron Mitchell • 2001 • United States
    Starring John Cameron Mitchell, Andrea Martin, Michael Pitt

    With this trailblazing musical, writer-director-star John Cameron Mitchell and composer-lyricist Stephen Trask brought their signature creation from stage to screen for a movie...

  • The World’s Greatest Sinner

    Episode 8

    Directed by Timothy Carey • 1962 • United States
    Starring Timothy Carey, Gil Barreto, Betty Rowland

    Timothy Carey—the unforgettable character actor whose weird, wiggy energy brought a manic edge to classics like THE KILLING and PATHS OF GLORY—wrote, produced, directed, and starred in this outrag...

  • Sleepwalk

    Episode 9

    Directed by Sara Driver • 1986 • United States, West Germay
    Starring Suzanne Fletcher, Ann Magnuson, Dexter Lee

    Sara Driver’s first feature is a tantalizingly enigmatic, surrealist fantasia rooted in the grit and anything-goes energy of the 1980s New York night world. When Nicole (Suzanne Fletch...

  • Blood Simple

    Episode 10

    Directed by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen • 1984 • United States

    Joel and Ethan Coen's career-long darkly comic road trip through misfit America began with this razor-sharp, hard-boiled neonoir set somewhere in Texas, where a sleazy bar owner releases a torrent of violence with one murderous though...

  • The Daytrippers

    Episode 11

    Directed by Greg Mottola • 1996 • United States
    Starring Parker Posey, Hope Davis, Liev Schreiber

    With its droll humor and bittersweet emotional heft, the feature debut of writer-director Greg Mottola announced the arrival of an unassumingly sharp-witted new talent on the 1990s indie film scene....

  • Night on Earth

    Episode 12

    Directed by Jim Jarmusch • 1991 • France, United Kingdom, Germany, United States, Japan
    Starring Gena Rowlands, Winona Ryder, Rosie Perez

    Five cities. Five taxicabs. A multitude of strangers in the night. Jim Jarmusch assembled an extraordinary international cast of actors (including Gena Rowlan...

  • Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai

    Episode 13

    Directed by Jim Jarmusch • 1999 • United States
    Starring Forest Whitaker, John Tormey, Cliff Gorman

    Jim Jarmusch combined his love for the ice-cool crime dramas of Jean-Pierre Melville and Seijun Suzuki with the philosophical dimensions of samurai mythology for an eccentrically postmodern take o...

  • Stranger Than Paradise

    Episode 14

    Directed by Jim Jarmusch • 1984 • United States, Germany
    Starring John Lurie, Richard Edson, Eszter Balint

    With this breakout film, Jim Jarmusch established himself as one of the most exciting voices in the burgeoning independent-film scene, a road-movie poet with an affinity for Americana at it...

  • Frances Ha

    Episode 15

    Directed by Noah Baumbach • 2013 • United States
    Starring Greta Gerwig, Mickey Sumner

    Greta Gerwig is radiant as Frances, a woman in her late twenties in contemporary New York trying to sort out her ambitions, her finances, and, above all, her intimate but shifting bond with her best friend, Sop...

  • Slacker

    Episode 16

    Directed by Richard Linklater • 1991 • United States
    Starring Richard Linklater, Kathy McCarty, Rudy Basquez

    SLACKER, directed by Richard Linklater, presents a day in the life of a loose-knit Austin, Texas, subculture populated by eccentric and overeducated young people. Shooting on 16 mm for a ...

  • Metropolitan

    Episode 17

    Directed by Whit Stillman • 1990 • United States
    Starring Carolyn Farina, Edward Clements, Taylor Nichols

    One of the great American independent films of the 1990s, the surprise hit METROPOLITAN, by writer-director Whit Stillman, is a sparkling comedic chronicle of a young man’s romantic misadven...

  • Desert Hearts

    Episode 18

    Directed by Donna Deitch • 1985 • United States

    Donna Deitch's swooning and sensual first narrative feature, DESERT HEARTS, was groundbreaking upon its release in 1985: a love story about two women, made entirely independently, on a shoestring budget, by a woman. In this 1959-set film, adapted...

  • Dead Man

    Episode 19

    Directed by Jim Jarmusch • 1995 • United States

    With DEAD MAN, his first period piece, Jim Jarmusch imagined the nineteenth-century American West as an existential wasteland, delivering a surreal reckoning with the ravages of industrialization, the country's legacy of violence and prejudice, a...

  • Paris Is Burning

    Episode 20

    Directed by Jennie Livingston • 1990 • United States
    Starring Dorian Corey, Pepper LaBeija, Angie Xtravaganza

    Where does voguing come from, and what, exactly, is throwing shade? This landmark documentary provides a vibrant snapshot of the 1980s through the eyes of New York City’s African America...

  • Losing Ground

    Episode 21

    Directed by Kathleen Collins • 1982 • United States
    Starring Seret Scott, Bill Gunn, Duane Jones

    One of the first feature films directed by an African American woman, Kathleen Collins’s LOSING GROUND tells the story of a marriage between two remarkable people, both at a crossroads in their lives...

  • Old Joy

    Episode 22

    Directed by Kelly Reichardt • 2006 • United States
    Starring Daniel London, Will Oldham

    Two old friends reunite for a quietly revelatory overnight camping trip in this breakout feature from Kelly Reichardt, a microbudget study of character and masculinity that introduced many viewers to one of co...

  • Me and You and Everyone We Know

    Episode 23

    Directed by Miranda July • 2005 • United States
    Starring John Hawkes, Miranda July, Miles Thompson

    With this compassionate, startling comedy that could have come from no other artistic sensibility, the brilliant Miranda July reveals a world both familiar and strange—an original vision of creativ...

  • Certain Women

    Episode 24

    Directed by Kelly Reichardt • 2016 • United States
    Starring Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart, Michelle Williams

    The expanses of the American West take center stage in this intimately observed triptych from Kelly Reichardt. Adapted from three short stories by Maile Meloy and unfolding in self-containe...