As with every single year, we try to cover as much indies as possible, but we just never have the time to see them all, sadly. For the first time ever, we’ve separated our five choice Indies in to Feature and Shorts categories. This will be five indie films we loved that are short format and feature format.
It’s not to say the films that didn’t make the list are terrible films, or that the films the other writers on Cinema Crazed enjoyed aren’t good, either. This is merely my own subjective list of five independent films I highly recommend to you that I saw this year. It’s good to remember this is opinion, and not gospel.
If you want to see what films the Cinema Crazed collective consider A+ Indies, visit the link included!
Also, be sure to let us know some of the best indie films you saw all year!
5. United We Fan (2018)
Director: Michael Sparaga
Distributor: Brainstorm Media
Fans have, for better and for worse, decided the fate of many big properties since the internet took over the world, but once upon a time it wasn’t so easy to get a word in about our favorite properties. “United We Fan” is a great celebration of the power of fandom and how many loyal fans took their loyalty and helped save some cancelled-too-soon series like “Veronica Mars,” “Millennium,” “Designing Women” and “Chuck” with some of the most passionate and creative campaigns ever engineered. Along the way there’s also looks at fan magazines, and how the fandoms operated before the world wide web. It’s a very positive and engaging documentary, which is welcomed in a modern world where fandoms are so toxic and vicious.
4. Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror (2019)
Director: Xavier Neal-Burgin
One of the most important films of the year, if not the decade, “Horror Noire” explores the importance of People of Color in the horror genre. There are some refreshing discussions with immense African American horror legends like Keith David, Ken Foree et al. and they discuss how black culture influenced horror, how they shaped it, how they were exploited by it, and how they’ve come to change it altogether. “Horror Noire” is frank and blunt, while also managing to deliver some truly informative looks in to history and how culture shaped black horror, and vice versa. Xavier Neal-Burgin delivers what should be standard viewing, not just for horror buffs, but for film buffs, culture buffs, and race studies in general.
Director: Alexander Monelli
Distributor: Monelli Films
Alexander Monelli’s documentary is one of the best viewing experiences I’ve had all year. Focusing on one of the remaining drive ins in America that’s kept alive by a community of film lovers will inspire so much from its audience. It’s about love for film, love for one another, and helping each other to keep one of the very last home grown businesses alive. “At the Drive-In” spotlights so many relatable individuals, all of whom have built a family and found a purpose that’s so much more about a field and a movie screen. Even if you’re not a movie lover, this documentary deserves a humongous audience.
Director: Gretchen Hildebran, Vivian Vásquez
Distributor: Independent Lens
Filmmakers Gretchen Hildebran and Vivian Vásquez chronicle a series of South Bronx fires that raged throughout the 1970s, and it’s a documentary that hit home for me, personally. With the Bronx and New York once again a target for gentrification, we’re facing a new era where landlords are cutting and running with as much money as possible. In the seventies and eighties, Landlords and Slum Lords sought to destroy their property by setting them ablaze, and make out like bandits with the money. Meanwhile the community was demonized by the media. It’s a still politically relevant and haunting look back at a point in history that just might repeat itself if we’re not careful.
Director: Andrew Patterson
Distributor: Amazon Studios; In Limited Release March 13th, 2020
Soon to get a distribution deal, Andrew Patterson’s “The Vast of Night” is one of the best Slamdance films I’ve ever seen. An ode to the classic science fiction horror series from the radio era and television era, Andrew Patterson’s “The Vast of Night” wears its influences on its sleeve with an anthology format that helps introduce a genuinely eerie mystery that gets even more terrifying as it progresses. Filled with spooky twists and turns, reliance on the classic urban legend, and excellent direction, “The Vast of Night” simply kept me hooked from minute one and I spent a good week thinking about it. This could have easily been all gimmick, and no substance, but Patterson defies every expectation. Not many genre films give me goosebumps these days, but “The Vast of Night” succeeded as what I consider a masterwork.