Independent (or more affectionately known as indie) films offer viewers an intimate view into an unfamiliar yet strangely comforting world. Some films revolve around long-forgotten feelings. There are films that take viewers on explorations that defy convention. Mostly, it’s about having a new appreciation for the less glossy, more realistic and grittier part of life. Much like the road less taken, independent films are for the adventurous viewers who want to see the world from a more nuanced point of view, rendering them perfect for those who want their own cerebral summer getaway. Curated especially for you, enjoy these essential independent films of the season.
Midsommar Release date: July 3 (US)
A bright blue sky, fields of green and fresh summer blooms... these are not the settings viewers would typically expect from a horror film. Director Ari Aster of Hereditary fame takes viewers to a rural area in Sweden, where a group of friends decide to celebrate a summer festival that only happens once in 90 years. Things take a dark turn when the locals insist that the friends take part in a series of bizarre rituals. Acclaimed Get Out director Jordan Peele said this film is “atrociously disturbing...” and even described it as “the most idyllic horror film of all time”. And some people thought Fyre Festival was bad…
The Farewell Release date: July 12 (US)
This tender comedy-drama revolves around Billi (Awkwafina), who must join her family on a trip to China to visit her grandmother. There, Billi learns that her cheerful grandmother has been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. However, the family decides that it’s best for grandma not to learn about her disease. Instead, they decide to use whatever time is left to fulfill some of her wishes. The Hollywood Reporter described the The Farewell as a “gentle delight” and praised Awkwafina for her performance as Billi. This film is bound to make viewers laugh out loud and cry hard at the same time. Get some tissues ready.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette Release date: Aug 16 (US)
What’s it like to seemingly have it all and then one day decide to walk away from everything? That’s the premise for this Cate Blanchett-starrer Where’d You Go, Bernadette, directed by Richard Linklater of Boyhood and Before Sunrise fame. Blanchett plays a woman who mysteriously disappears one day, leaving behind her loving husband and brilliant daughter to find out what happened to her. It’s an intriguing story of mystery and self-discovery based on the best-selling book of the same name by Maria Semple.
Blinded By The Light Release date: Aug 9 (UK)
Ever wonder why some people find solace and truth in music? In this Gurinder Chadha-directed film, American rock legend Bruce Springsteen’s music helps a Pakistani-British teenager break out from his shell. He starts to believe in himself, using Springsteen’s music to inspire his poetry and prose. Most of all, the music helps him to mend some important relationships. Variety described Blinded By The Light as Gurinder’s best film since Bend It Like Beckham. Here’s a coming-of-age film for those who need some help to see the light.
Yesterday Release date: June 28 (UK)
Jack Malik is a struggling singer-songwriter who loves The Beatles. One day, he wakes up after a terrible accident and finds himself living in a bizarre world where no one has heard of The Beatles’ music. So he decides to capitalize on that, passes off The Beatles’ songs as his own creation and becomes famous. However, as he gets closer to stardom, he realizes that he no longer has control over the things that really matter to him. Director Danny Boyle weaves a heartfelt story on how people lose sight of the important things in life. There is magic and wonder to be found in the things that are both simple and familiar.
The Nightingale Release date: August 2 (US)
Revenge is a dish best served cold. In this period thriller film set in the 1800s, Clare sets out to avenge the death of her husband and baby against the men who did her wrong. She enlists the help of an Aboriginal tracker and together, both of them must brave through the wilderness and a brutal unkind prejudicial society. The predator becomes the hunted in this absorbing cathartic tale, directed by Jennifer Kent of The Babadook fame. However, this film may not be for everyone. During a screening at the Sydney Film Festival, audience members reportedly walked out due to the film’s graphic depiction of violence. You have been warned.
The Art Of Self Defense Release date: July 12 (US)
What does it mean to be a man? For meek accountant Casey, it means taking up karate as a form of self-defense. His charismatic instructor who goes by the name Sensei decides to help Casey reinvent himself into a man who will be feared by everyone. He tells Casey to change his musical taste and even encourages him to stand up to his bullies. However, Sensei’s dominating ways may soon become too much for Casey to handle. This dark comedy has received some rave reviews for its cast performance (Jesse Eisenberg plays Casey) and hilarious yet thought-provoking take on toxic masculinity.
Them That Follow Release date: Aug 2 (US)
Those with ophidophobia (aka fear of snakes) might want to look away. Them That Follow is set in the Appalachian mountains where a small community lives far away from society. This community lives under the watchful eye of a preacher, who believes that people must wholeheartedly believe in a higher power. His belief includes submitting followers to a dangerous tradition of letting a venomous snake bite them, and then using their faith to overcome death. A young woman decides to challenge the community’s long-standing tradition. This thrilling tale explains why sometimes it takes a woman to raise a village and steer them away from blind faith.
Luce Release date: Aug 2 (US)
Luce was a former child soldier whose life changed when an American couple decided to adopt him. He grows up into a model student with exceptional academic and sporting achievements. Then, a teacher has reasons to believe that Luce is not what he seems. Soon, his life begins to unravel as everyone starts questioning his every move and intent. This psychological mystery film raises some important questions about racial profiling, parenting and how people often project their own idealism on those from marginalized communities. In the end, people are nowhere near making the world a better place if they only want what they think is right for everyone else. Life is much more complicated than that.
Cover Image: Midsommar / A24
Writer l JEM
I like Pina Colada and getting caught in the rain. Not into yoga. Wait, how does that song go again?