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Film Genres

This guide highlights library resources for some of the more popular film genres.

A short definition for independent cinema

Independent cinema (US)

1. Films made outside the production, distribution, and exhibition framework of the major Hollywood studios and considered antithetical or oppositional to mainstream commercial cinema.

2. Films aimed at niche audiences made by independent film companies for commercial purposes, often in cooperation with the major film producers.

In its most common use, the term independent film, or ‘indie’ film in the US, broadly corresponds with art cinema in a European context. In 1950s New York, repertory cinemas showing European art films catered to an appreciative audience of cinephiles, inspiring would-be filmmakers to create films outside the commercial sector. Morris Engel, with his wife Ruth Orkin, made The Little Fugitive (1953), Lovers and Lollipops (1955), and Weddings and Babies (1958); and Lionel Rogosin made On the Bowery (1956)—documentary-style films informed by Neorealism. The increasing availability of portable and relatively inexpensive 16 mm cameras and Nagra tape-recording technology encouraged more filmmakers to follow their lead, among them John Cassavetes, who produced and directed Shadows (1959) and is perhaps America’s best-known independent (see also new american cinema). Other New York-based independents, include Shirley Clarke (The Connection (1962), The Cool World (1963), and Portrait of Jason (1967)); Andy Warhol (The Chelsea Girls (1966) and Lonesome Cowboys (1967)); Paul Morrissey, who after working with Warhol went on to direct Flesh (1968), Trash (1970), and Women in Revolt (1971); Robert Kramer (Ice (1969) and Milestones (with John Douglas, (1975)); and Mark Rappaport (Imposters (1979), The Scenic Route (1978)). Working during this same period but based in Los Angeles, Charles Burnett (Killer of Sheep (1977), My Brother’s Wedding (1983)) is—along with Julie Dash and Haile Gerima—a prominent African-American independent filmmaker (see black cinema (us)).   ...

Kuhn, A., & Westwell, G. (2020). Independent cinema (US). In A Dictionary of Film Studies. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 7 Aug. 2023

Finding library resource about independent film

Resources about Independent film are scattered throughout the PN 1990's. To see what our catalog has, click on one of the following subject searches:

Introductory reading(s)

Selected book title(s)

Finding scholarly articles & journal title(s)

Articles and other writings about independent film can be found in many publications. Our collection includes 2 publications which look exclusively at experimental films but none that look exclusively at independent films. The titles are listed below. You can use Film & Television Literature Index to find more articles.

Selected movie titles

Find more independent films.

Internet resource(s)