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The Catalyst

The Student News Site of Millard West High School

The Catalyst

The Student News Site of Millard West High School

The Catalyst

Under-looked direction

Independent films shine new light on cinema
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Nathan Buroker
Since the beginning of cinema, independent films have shaped the way of film.

Movies have the ability to transform how we see the world; they can help us escape or make us feel like we belong, all while still entertaining us. When comedies make us laugh-dramas inspire us, and independent films do everything in between as their original perspective has shown the diversity of movie-making for years.

An independent film isn’t just a coming-of-age classic but a feature or short film produced outside a major film studio. They dive deep into feelings and emotions, yet aren’t afraid to express thought-provoking pieces of work. 

Independent films don’t try to appeal to everyone, but rather an audience who cares about changing modern ideology and wants their opinions expressed on a screen rather than in their head. They pride themselves on tackling real-world issues that other film companies won’t dare take on. An example of this is the recently released 2023 film “Sound Of Freedom,” whose objective was to bring awareness to the massive human trafficking epidemic across the United States and other parts of the world. This particular film has become one of the highest-grossing independent films ever made, as it was something critics had never seen before. Keeping up with that same theme, independent films like the 2000s hit “Brokeback Mountain” and later on “Call Me By Your Name” were substantial pieces of work as they had the successful mission of the advancement of queer cinema into mainstream piles of work, while also bringing engaging stories to theaters.

These specific films have such depth in their story-telling that they leave you with questions hours after watching. Many independent films can fixate on true stories that must be told to exploit livelihood propaganda. Similar to this narrative, the 2018 film, based on the original memoir “Beautiful Boy,” shares the moving story of a father dealing with his son’s ongoing addiction to opioids. This particular story has been an influential film in modern-day high school classrooms. Since its release, the film has taught students valuable lessons about the harm of drugs to themselves and surrounding family members in health and wellness classes.

Looking at genre cinema, independent films also fit into those categories. When looking at comedy, the 2012 breakout film “Frances Ha” immediately comes to mind, as its black-and-white cinematography and portrayal of a female protagonist left positive reviews from critics. On the other hand, the independent psychological thriller “Black Swan” shared a new perspective in cinema. Its cinematography introduced a fresh interpretation of using different lighting techniques to tell a story, as the main character, Nina (Natalie Portman) transforms into different illusions of herself as she performs.

Directing these films is all about inspiration; enchanting your audience with your words throughout each scene is important as each film differs from the others. The popular film company A24 is notorious for only producing independent films, as each director’s strange and original ideas are intriguing. Two major independent films for A24 have been “Lady Bird,” directed by Greta Gerwig, and “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert.

The independent film “Lady Bird” gives a relatable message to many viewers. Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) yearns for adventure, sophistication and stability in her chaotic life. She represents the “free spirits” of the world as she and her mother are constantly at each other’s throats. Throughout the film, she is on her own journey, not conforming to her mother’s old-fashioned ways, which speaks volumes about teens today. 

“Everything Everywhere All At Once” is nothing short of a masterful sci-fi in the independent film world. The film uses different additions of set, props, color and themes to tell the story of a struggling Asian woman simply doing her taxes. With anything from jumping through portals to hot dog fingers, this independent film left a lasting impression on viewers.

With a stackable amount of limited resources, funding and lack of creative control, independent films still need to be recognized for their remarkable work. They have continuously broken barriers with each release as they are making a lasting impression in theaters everywhere, inspiring viewers with each watch.

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About the Contributor
Nathan Buroker, Staff Reporter
Nate is a senior and this is his second year on the CATalyst staff. In class, he enjoys writing reviews on new entertainment and doing broadcasts on school related events. Outside of school, Nate enjoys spending time with his friends, trying new restaurants, and working.

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