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The Top 11 Indies to Watch on VOD This August

The Top 11 Indies to Watch on VOD This August

Indiewire has weeded through the films hitting VOD this hot summer month to bring you a curated list of the 11 most worth your time. You’ll find everything from the latest controversial documentary from the Dane behind “The Red Chapel” to a Gallic musical starring some of France’s biggest stars, a zombie splatterfest set at a wedding and a road-trip drama headlined by Sherlock Homles himself, Benedict Cumberbatch.

Here are the 11 films to watch on VOD this August, in alphabetical order. Click on the film’s title for its individual film page.

“Ajami” (August 7)

Nominated for a 2009 Best Foreign-Language Film Oscar, “Ajami” is a powerful crime drama set on the mean streets of Jaffa’s Ajami neighborhood — a melting pot of cultures and conflicting views among Jews, Muslims and Christians. The lives of two brothers fearing assassination; a young refugee working illegally to cover his mother’s medical expenses; and a cop obsessed with finding his missing brother all intersect in this sprawling ensemble drama. “For all of its stories, characters, and perspectives, ‘Ajami’ is essentially a sustained gaze into a widening, all-encompassing trap,” wrote Eric Hynes in his review of the film for Indiewire. “Life is cheap, death is random, and no one is safe.”

Where to Find: XBOX

“The Ambassador” (August 4)

You can always count on Danish journalist/filmmaker Mads Brügger to stir the pot. In the award-winning documentary that put him on the map, “The Red Chapel,” Brügger headed to North Korea with two Danish-Korean comedians under the guise of a cultural exchange to show what life is really like for the country’s citizens. With his follow-up “The Ambassador,” which played at the Sundance Film Festival in January, he makes his way to the Central African Republic posing as a Liberian consul to show what happens when a very white European man buys his way into being a diplomat in one of Central Africa’s most failed nations.

Where to Find: Dish, DirecTV, Comcast, Cox, Brighthouse, Charter, Time Warner, ATT, Verizon

“The Babymakers” (August 3)

From the director of the much-beloved state trooper comedy “Super Troopers,” Jay Chandrasekhar, comes his latest, “The Babymakers.” Though nowhere near as wild as his breakout feature, “Babymakers” still makes for a rowdy time thanks to an outlandish plot that centers on a couple (Paul Schneider and Olivia Munn) who, after struggling to get pregnant, decide that the best course of action is to repossess his previous sperm deposit. What a great idea! The film also stars Constance Zimmer, comedian Kevin Heffernan and “The Talk” host Aisha Tyler.

Where to Find: Movies On Demand, iTunes, Playstation, XBOX, Amazon, Vudu, Google Play, Blockbuster Online, Charter, Cox, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Verizon Fios, Cablevision, Directv

“Bachelorette” (August 10)

Six months after debuting at the Sundance Film Festival, playwright Leslye Headland’s film debut “Bachelorette” hits VOD a month before opening in select markets. It’s nothing like the television show, “The Bachelorette,” but it does bare some resemblance to the 2011 hit film, “Bridesmaids.” Produced by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, the film follows three bridesmaids (Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, Lizzy Caplan) as they reunite to celebrate the upcoming nupitals of their high school friend, Becky (a scene stealing Rebel Wilson). Supported by a male cast of Adam Scott, James Marsden and Hayes McArthur, the film’s a raucous, foul mouthed blast for folks who like their hard-R comedies crass and wild.

Where to Watch: iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube, Playstation, XBOX, Vudu, Time Warner

“Beloved” (August 17)

Spanning 50 years and clocking in at over two hours, with musical numbers to boot, “Beloved” by Christophe Honoré is nothing if not ambitious. Fans of his well-received “Love Songs” from 2007 will no doubt warm to this companion piece that features sporadic bouts of song, courtesy of long-time musical collaborator Alex Beaupain. The film is “first and foremost an actor’s movie, given that the director has assembled an extraordinary all-star cast,” wrote Eric Kohn in his review out of Cannes, where it had its world premiere as the festival’s closing-night film. He wasn’t kidding. Ludivine Sagnier portrays the stylishly haughty shoe saleswoman (and occasional prostitute) Madelaine of the ’60s, while Catherine Deneuve is the Madelaine of the ’90s, now in her second marriage and prone to the occasional tryst with her first husband, played by Milos Forman. Deneuve’s real-life daughter, Chiara Mastroianni, plays the adult version of her on-screen daughter, Vera.

Where to Find: Bright House, Cablevision, Comcast, Cox, Insight, Time Warner

“Craigslist Joe” (August 2)

From Zach Galifianakis (yes, that Zach Galifianakis) comes “Craigslist Joe,” a timely documentary about one man who left everything behind to see if he could survive solely off the goodwill of America’s new town square: Craigslist. The guy in question is director Joseph Garner, who for 31 days and nights embarks on a wholly modern adventure that shows how the world hasn’t changed that much when it comes to a sense of community — it’s just how those communites are formed that’s evolved. Galifianakis served as the executive producer.

Where to Find: Blue Ridge Communications, Bright House, Charter Communications, Comcast Xfinity, COX, DirecTV VOD, Insight, Mediacom, RCN, Sudden Link, Time Warner Cable, Verizon, iTunes, Amazon Video, Blockbuster On Demand, CinemaNow, PlayStation, Vudu, XBOX, Zune

“[REC] 3: Genesis” (August 3)

This third entry in the popular “[REC]” found-footage horror series mixes things up by injecting a good dose of humor into the scares and doing away with the handheld aesthetic altogether once the plot gets going. And unlike the first two, “Genesis” takes place at a wedding, and not in the infected apartment complex where the first two entries are set. The plot barely begs a description, but suffice it to say, a couple’s happy day is put to the test when guests start exhibiting zombie-like symptoms. You know what happens next.

Where to Find: iTunes, Amazon, Charter, Comcast, Google Play, DirecTV, Playstation, SuddenLink, Time Warner, Verizon FIOS, Vudu, XBOX

“Sleepwalk With Me” (August 31)

A breakout hit at Sundance, where it nabbed the Best of Next audience award, “Sleepwalk With Me,” written, directed and starring comic Mike Birbiglia, is the semi-autobiographical story of a struggling comedian at a crossroads and the growing prominence of his sleeping subconcious. As his family unites for his sister’s wedding, Mike’s anxieties take on the form of vivid dreams. The growing intensity of Mike’s sleeping life carries destructive real-life implications for his relationship with his longterm girlfriend, played by Lauren Ambrose of “Six Feet Under” fame. Supporting Birbiglia and Ambrose are Carol Kane (“Taxi”), James Rebhorn (“Meet the Parents”), Cristin Milioti (“30 Rock”), and a slew of prominent comics.

Where to Find: Bright House, Cablevision, Comcast, Cox, Insight, Time Warner

“Street Fight” (August 28)

A year after earning his second Oscar nomination, for his searing documentary “If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front,” Marshal Curry’s debut (which netted him his first nomination) “Street Fight” finally finds its way to VOD via SnagFilms (Indiewire’s parent company). The film chronicles the hard-fought campaign for mayor of Newark, New Jersey, by Corey Booker, a young community activist who attempted to unseat longtime mayor Sharpe James. Despite being seven years old, “Street Fight” remains relevant by exposing many of the issues plaguing minority communities in Newark and the harsh tactics used in politics.

Where to Find: iTunes, Amazon, XBOX, Vudu, Google Play

“Third Star” (August 14)

Sherlock Holmes himself, Benedict Cumberbatch, stars in this comically revealing drama about a close group of friends who take an ill-advised trip to the coast of West Wales. Trekking through the unforgiving landscape to camp on a long-beloved beach, the friends fight, laugh, drink and have a rather strange (and shirtless) encounter with Hugh Bonneville (“Downton Abbey”), which brings them together in a way they never thought possible. Think of it as Britain’s answer to “The Hangover,” minus the tiger, baby and Vegas-type shenanigans.

Where to Find: iTunes, Amazon, Movies On Demand, Cinemanow, Playstation, Vudu, XBOX, YouTube

“Why Stop Now” (August 17)

Previously known as “Predisposed” back when it played at the Sundance Film Festival, “Why Stop Now” pairs up recent Academy Award nominee Jesse Eisenberg with Oscar winner Melissa Leo as a dysfunctional mother/son duo. Directed by Phil Dorling and Ron Nyswaner, “Why Stop Now” follows one hell of a chaotic day in the life of a piano prodigy (Eisenberg) who on the day of a very important audition for a prestigious program is forced to help his drug-addicted mother (Leo) get her fix from her drug dealer (Tracy Morgan) so she can qualify for rehab. Yes, you read that right.

Where to Find: Bright House, Cablevision, Comcast, Cox, Insight, Time Warner

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Third Star is a beautiful and moving film that will stay with you for a long time. The chemistry of the four main actors is phenomenal, and the incidental characters (including performances by Karl Johnson and Hugh Bonneville) are quirky and highly entertaining. I dare you not to laugh out loud AND cry during the course of this film. Bonus: It's Benedict Cumberbatch. That alone would be reason to watch this film, but it truly is a finely crafted piece of cinema.

Don Quichote explains why THE AMBASSADOR is not a documentary nor a mockumentary, and reveals the inconvenient truth behind the story about what was left out.

Bruce Spencer


An award-winning documentary by Jenny Abel and Jeff Hockett

In 2005, after winning First Grand Prize at the Slamdance Film Festival, and four years later in 2009, a similar honor at the Fargo Film Festival, “Abel Raises Cain,” a comedy feature, has defied the laws of Hollywood’s jungle. Its “legs” remain unstoppable.

During 2011, “Abel Raises Cain” completed a four-thousand mile tour of southern colleges and museums in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Audiences of all ages were mesmerized, reacting with sustained laughter and standing ovations.

At South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, SC, the sold out screening had to be held in their spacious planetarium and projected on the ceiling. It was somewhat eerie to observe a full house of patrons laughing and applauding, while lounging on the horizontal easy chairs designed for overhead viewing.

In New Orleans, to accommodate an overflow crowd, “Abel Raises Cain” was also projected on the side of a three-story building next door. Even traffic halted to view the movie. At its conclusion, horns honked and a marching band appeared, playing “The Saints,” adding to the excitement of cheers, shouts and applause. What a tribute for filmmakers Jenny Abel and Jeff Hockett!

After each screening, Jenny took the stage to field questions from the elated audiences. They all registered their surprise and delight at this first view of the young filmmaker who deftly handled queries. When asked where her father was, that was his cue to appear from backstage for standing ovations and applause. Alan Abel was a secret guest and he joined his daughter for more banter with audiences.

During its past and present screenings, “Abel Raises Cain” has won major awards at film festivals in Canada, England, Denmark, Germany and France. Copies of the DVD, with a commentary and extra features, are available from its website:

Alan Abel will be featured off-Broadway in 2012 with “Jester At Large,” along with fellow pranksters Paul Hiatt and Frank Murgalo. Details are to be announced soon on his website:

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Michael Hawley

Another vote here for The Ambassador (and thanks for adding a "Where to find" listing to this regular VOD column).

Salty Bill

The Ambassador is hilarious, and most entertaining. Saw this at Sundance 2012.


Wonder if the "Third Star" team likes posting comments here.


"Third Star" is the kind of movie that stays with you long after you've watched it. It's not your usual tear jerker, despite the fact that it features a young man dying of a cancer. It's a reflexion on how we lead our lives, sometimes deluding ourselves into thinking that we're living them at their fullest, on how we can lie to ourselves and lose what we are along the way. A lot of the dialogue and situations hit very close to home. The cast is stellar, with a special mention for Benedict Cumberbatch and JJ Field. And the Welsh landscapes are just beautiful.


SO excited to have finally have a VOD for Third Star. It's the kind of film that curls up in your subconscious and stays there. The gorgeously filmed landscape of Wales will forever make "Barafundle Bay" seem like a magical incantation of some kind. Bring your tissues–but revel in the incredibly endearing friendship of James, Miles, Bill and Davy.


Third Star is *the* one film to watch, just perfect!


Third Star is phenomenal! Best film I've seen in years! Watch it. Love it.

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