An independent film (as defined by Wikipedia) is a film that is produced outside of the major studio system and by extension is distributed by independent entertainment companies. There are arguments that certain visual styles and subject matter can be used to determine whether a film is “indie” or not. To me, not being financially backed by a big studio lends itself to be able to take more risks with visuals and explore experimental subjects, which is why it has become the stereotype of the Indie film.
Either way it is depressing to see that the ‘top 10 greatest Indie films of all time’ lists spattered around the internet host a large majority of male directed films. So I decided to make an all-female directed top 10 indie film list to counteract the biased lists you can get everywhere else.
Lost In Translation – Directed by Sofia Coppola
Sophia Coppola’s second film Lost In Translation stars Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray as a college graduate and ageing film star respectively, who meet in a hotel and start an unlikely relationship. It was nominated for 4 academy awards including best director making Coppola 1 of 5 female directors ever nominated in this category. To me one of Coppola’s better films as it explores themes such as loneliness, culture shock, and existential crisis.
Bend It Like Beckham – Directed By Gurinder Chadha
Bend it like Beckham comes from English/Asian director Gurinder Chadha who’s work normally focuses on Indians living in the UK. This films story follows 18 year old Jesminder who is forbidden to play football by her family due to being a girl. She subsequently joins a team however and they make their way to the top of the league.
Ladybird – Directed by Greta Gerwig
I. Love. This. Film (I can’t put clapping emoji’s in via my laptop). Again one of the only other women to be nominated for best Director, Greta Gerwig brings to life the story of Ladybird (Saorsie Ronan) as she struggles with identity, hormones, and her relationship with her mum. This film was brilliantly real and Gerwig has mentioned she took inspiration from experiences in her own life to write the script.
Thirteen – Directed by Catherine Hardwicke
Coming of age film Thirteen follows Tracy, a junior high school student in Los Angeles who begins dabbling in substance abuse, sex, and crime after being befriended by a troubled classmate. The film caused controversy due to its depiction of youth drug abuse but the story was partly based on the real life experience of co-writer Nicki Reed, who was 14 at the time of writing the script. Both lead actresses received golden globe nominations.
American Honey – Directed by Andrea Arnold
Winning the Jury Prize at the 2016 Cannes Film festival American Honey tells the story of Star, a troubled teenager who leaves home to travel the road with a group of teens who sell door to door magazine subscriptions. The film stars Sasha Lane, Shia LaBeouf, and Riley Keough but was mainly “street cast,” meaning that Arnold took to the streets approaching teenagers in parking lots and beaches to find her cast giving the film a raw and real vibe.
The Runaways – Directed by Floria Sigismondi
Ch, ch, ch, CHERRY BOMB! Staring Kirstin Stewart and Dakota Fanning this biographical drama about the band of the same name received generally favourable reviews, being praised for the performances and less for the historical accuracy. It was director Floria Sigismondi’s feature film debut and whilst it may have appeared to be a biopic, Sigismondi made it clear that she aimed to create a coming of age story rather than a biographically accurate retelling of events.
Whip It – Directed by Drew Barrymore
Still one of my favourite films to watch and so much so that I started rollerskating this year…I’m a long way off roller derby though. Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut Whip It stars Ellen Page as Bliss a teen stuck in the grips of her mother’s beauty pageant world and yearning to break free. This film has heart as well as grit and an awesome cast of strong females that will all make you wanna step into some skates too.
The Kindergarten Teacher – Directed by Sara Colangelo
Finally released in Australian cinemas, if but limited, The Kindergarten Teacher is a film about Lisa Spinelli (Maggie Gyllenhaal) who is a kindergarten teacher struggling with feelings of dissatisfaction in her life when she meets Jimmy, a student who she deems a child prodigy who’s genius she must nurture and protect. The film premiered at Sundance film festival where Colangelo won the Us Drama: Directing prize. The film has since ben acquired for distribution by American Netflix and is currently available to stream now.
A Girls Walks Home Alone At Night – Directed by Ana Lily Amirpour
The first ever Persian language American Vampire Western. This horror film was first shown as part of the Next program of the 2014 Sundance festival and has been described as the first ever Persian language American Vampire Western. The film follows the doings of a lonely vampire intertwined with the life of a man trying to look after his father. Funded by an Indiegogo campaign and surpassing its $55,000 goal the film received a very positive reception and appears on many halloween playlists.
Mudbound – Directed by Dees Rees
Receiving 4 Oscar nominations and resulting in the first ever woman to be nominated for best Cinematography Mudbound is a story of two WWII veterans returning home, one white and one black, and their differing experiences as they deal with racism and PTSD. Adapted from a book of the same name written by Hilary Jordan, the film received dozens of award nominations from many different festivals and has high critical acclaim.