American Independents

American Independents

29 Episodes

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

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American Independents
  • Blood Simple

    Episode 1

    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 2

    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 3

    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 4

    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 5

    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 6

    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 7

    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 8

    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 9

    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 10

    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 11

    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 12

    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 13

    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 14

    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 15

    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...

  • What Happened Was . . .

    Episode 16

    Directed by Tom Noonan • 1994 • United States
    Starring Karen Sillas, Tom Noonan

    A lost masterpiece of 1990s independent cinema reemerges in a new restoration. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize and the screenwriting award at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival, WHAT HAPPENED WAS . . . is Tom Noonan’s si...

  • Secret Honor

    Episode 17

    Directed by Robert Altman • 1984 • United States
    Starring Philip Baker Hall

    Sequestered in his home, a disgraced President Richard Milhous Nixon arms himself with a bottle of scotch and a gun to record memoirs that no one will hear. He is surrounded by the silent portraits of Lincoln, Eisenhower...

  • Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song

    Episode 18

    Directed by Melvin Van Peebles • 1971 • United States
    Starring Melvin Van Peebles, Simon Chuckster, Hubert Scales

    A landmark of Black and American independent cinema that would send shock waves through the culture, SWEET SWEETBACK’S BAADASSSSS SONG was Melvin Van Peebles’s second feature film, a...

  • Mala Noche

    Episode 19

    Directed by Gus Van Sant • 1985 • United States
    Starring Tim Streeter, Doug Cooeyate, Ray Monge

    With its low budget and lush black-and-white imagery, Gus Van Sant’s debut feature MALA NOCHE heralded an idiosyncratic, provocative new voice in American independent film. Set in Van Sant’s hometown ...

  • Museum Hours

    Episode 20

    Directed by Jem Cohen • 2012 • Austria, United States
    Starring Mary Margaret O’Hara, Bobby Sommer, Ela Piplits

    Acclaimed experimental filmmaker Jem Cohen applies his singular vision to narrative in this mesmerizing tale of two adrift strangers who find refuge in Vienna’s grand Kunsthistorisches ...

  • George Washington

    Episode 21

    Directed by David Gordon Green • 2000 • United States
    Starring Candace Evanofski, Donald Holden, Damien Jewan Lee

    Over the course of one hot summer, a group of children in the decaying rural South must confront a tangle of difficult choices. An ambitiously constructed, elegantly photographed med...

  • Schizopolis

    Episode 22

    Directed by Steven Soderbergh • 1996 • United States
    Starring Steven Soderbergh, Betsy Brantley, David Jensen

    Fletcher Munson has a doppelgänger in dentist Dr. Jeffrey Korchek. In his only starring performance to date, acclaimed director Steven Soderbergh inhabits both roles: Munson, onanistic c...

  • Bless Their Little Hearts

    Episode 23

    Directed by Billy Woodberry • 1984 • United States
    Starring Nate Hardman, Kaycee Moore, Angela Burnett

    Scripted and shot by Charles Burnett, Billy Woodberry’s slice-of-life revelation is a key masterpiece of the LA Rebellion, the black independent-cinema renaissance that emerged from UCLA’s film...

  • The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love

    Episode 24

    Directed by Maria Maggenti • 1995 • United States
    Starring Laurel Holloman, Nicole Ari Parker, Maggie Moore

    Breaking new ground in queer representation when it was released in 1995, this tender and charming tale of first love traces the tentative relationship that develops between two high-schoo...