From Independent to ‘Indie’ Cinema

Yannis Tzioumakis

in The Spanish Prisoner

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print April 2009 | ISBN: 9780748633685
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748671236 | DOI:
From Independent to ‘Indie’ Cinema

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The chapter reviews a number of debates and arguments about contemporary American independent cinema. One of these arguments involves an examination of independent cinema as an institutional apparatus exemplified by the huge number of film festivals (with the massively popular Sundance Film Festival at the forefront), specialized theatre circuits, distributors’ associations, and even an Independent Spirit Award body, which have created a significant marketplace for low-budget films that differ from the blockbuster films and star vehicles of the major studios. Furthermore, it presents arguments about American independent cinema from an industrial-economic perspective focusing in particular on the ‘problem’ of the studios’ classics divisions and specialty film labels. As these companies traded heavily in the American independent film market, especially since the 1990s, it became extremely difficult to distinguish between ‘truly’ independent films (i.e. made by companies without affiliations with the majors) and films made with an ‘independent style’ by companies with corporate links with the majors. For those reasons, the chapter argues, critics, industry and audiences started using the label ‘indie’ instead of ‘independent’, which suggests a qualitative difference between the two.

Keywords: American independent cinema; Indie film; Classics divisions; Specialty labels; Film market; Institutional apparatus

Chapter.  6213 words. 

Subjects: Film

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