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by Peter Knegt
August 28, 2012 12:48 PM
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Fall Movie Preview: The 30 Indies You Must See

5. How To Survive a Plague (September 21)

Director: David France
Distributor: Sundance Selects

Why is it a "Must See"? A chronicle of AIDS activism in New York, David France's acclaimed doc -- which premiered at this year's Sundance Film Festival -- shows how a group of men and women fought against a homophobic establishment to help bring life-saving drugs to America.

READ MORE: How To Make a Powerful AIDS Doc: Talking to the Team Behind 'How To Survive a Plague'

A powerful piece of American history that too few are aware, "How To Survive a Plague" deserves just as much of an audience as all the Oscar baity fall fare that fills most of this list (not to say this doesn't deserve a slot in the best doc race).

Check out the trailer below:

6. The Impossible (December 21)

Director: Juan Antonio Bayona
Cast: Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland, Oaklee Pendergast
Distributor: Summit Entertainment

Why is it a "Must See"? Speaking of Oscar baity fare, Juan Antonio Bayona's "The Impossible" definitely fits that bill.  Based on a true story, the film is an account of a family caught in the mayhem of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.  Early word on the film -- which premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival next month -- has been very strong. And the just-released trailer certainly suggests a powerful experience:

Check out the trailer below:

7. Amour (December 19) &  8. Rust and Bone (November 16)

Directors: Michael Haneke ("Amour") and Jacques Audiard ("Rust and Bone")
Casts: Isabelle Huppert, Emmanuelle Riva, Jean-Louis Trintignant, William Shimell ("Amour"); Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts ("Rust and Bone")
Distributors: Sony Pictures Classics (both)

Why Are They "Must Sees"? An un-deux punch of acclaimed French imports care of Sony Pictures Classics comes with Michael Haneke's "Amour" and Jacques Audiard's "Rust and Bone."

The former focuses on an elderly couple, Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) and Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) who are coping with a stroke that paralyses Anne's body, while the latter follows an unemployed man (Matthias Schoenaerts) who falls in love with a killer whale trainer (Marion Cotillard) who loses her legs in an accident.

READ MORE: CANNES REVIEW: A Restrained Michael Haneke Delivers With Gripping Death Drama 'Amour'

Both love stories are alums of the Cannes Film Festival (where "Amour" earned Haneke his second Palme d'Or), and together the films are something of a redux to 2009.  That year saw Haneke's "The White Ribbon" (which also won the Palme d'Or) and Audiard's "A Prophet" come out via Sony Classics, and both receive Oscar noms for best foreign language films.

Check out the trailers below:

9. Promised Land (December 28)

Director: Gus Van Sant
Cast: Matt Damon, John Krasinski, Frances McDormand, Rosemarie DeWitt, Hal Holbrook
Distributor: Focus Features

Why is it a "Must See"? A last minute addition to the fall schedule (though there will surely be more to come), Focus Features is releasing Gus Van Sant's "Promised Land" at the tail end of 2012. 

The film -- scripted by and starring Matt Damon and John Krasinski -- takes on the hot topic of fracking (hydraulic fracturing) through a story of a corporate salesman (Damon), who seeks drilling rights in distressed communities, and a local man (Krasinski), who looks to oppose the sale. The film could put Damon head-to-head with BFF and "Argo" director-star Ben Affleck (who, as we know, co-wrote "Good Will Hunting" with Damon, a film also directed by Van Sant) this award season.

The film has yet to release a trailer.

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  • Me | August 29, 2012 3:09 AMReply

    Dont forget On The Road and Noah Baumbachs black and white film with Gretat Gerwig.

  • Nadir F. | August 29, 2012 12:13 AMReply

    OK - enough about indie-film race relations for a moment. Can anyone explain the ridiculous music on the Wuthering Heights trailer? Definitely a white boy edit.

  • Proj | September 4, 2012 4:17 PM

    I think that music is a result of the pop-up ad, but I couldn't shut it off. The actual trailer has no music and it's quite effective.

  • JUNE | August 28, 2012 2:12 PMReply

    Is this is order? Please say no.

  • frida n. | August 28, 2012 1:07 PMReply

    Your press for movies of color is pathetic. Your editorial leadership is lily white and horrible. Shadow and Act makes you feel like you have a pass. But this site is trash when it comes to it's press for anybody that does not look like you. You have not one Latino or Asian or Native or Middle Eastern or African film here. You have two Black American ones relegated to 28 and 30 that you write about like an afterthought. You make no attempts to be inclusive to anything that is not in your lily white world. And. You have just been called on it. I'm certain this comment will be deleted. But you read it and you know it is true. Get a life.

  • Crisp | August 29, 2012 1:58 PM

    I hope too that this list is not in order. The colored people's films being at the end of the list says a lot about what the author values and feels is "better." Indiewire is kind of like the Republican convention of the independent film universe. Everyday they tell us "others" WE BUILT IT, so the rest of you can stay out. You report on the obscure non-ethnic festivals and conferences but I can count on one hand the number of articles about our Latino festivals or those of other colored people.

  • Daniel | August 28, 2012 9:54 PM

    Two things: "Middle of Nowhere" isnt Ava DuVernay's directorial debut. That was "I Will Follow" released through AFFRM a few years ago. The other more interesting issue is Frida N's comment about there being two Black American films on the list. Does the fact that "The Paperboy" is directed by Lee Daniels, a black man, make it a black film? Interesting...

  • Peter Knegt | August 28, 2012 3:25 PM


    Of course we won't delete it. But I must ask you - Do you have any suggestions for the types of films you note that have distribution this Fall? There sadly and simply are very few quality Latino or Asian or Native or Middle Eastern or African films that have US distribution and are coming out this fall. I agree it's largely a lily white world. But as far as I'm concerned, Indiewire simply just lives in. We try and be as inclusive as possible, but we can't correct the sad state that is minority representation in cinema ourselves.