Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Celebrating 17 Years of Film.Biz.Fans.
by Peter Knegt
August 28, 2012 12:48 PM
  • |

Fall Movie Preview: The 30 Indies You Must See

21. Holy Motors (October 17)

Director: Leos Carax
Cast: Denis Lavant, Edith Scob, Eva Mendes, Kylie Minogue
Distributor: Indomina

Why is it a "Must See"? One of if not the most discussed films of the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, Leos Carax's "Holy Motors" was deemed "balls-to-the-wall crazy" in an Indiewire review that also called it "beautiful and unbelievably strange." Following a man (Denis Lavant) who travels between multiple parallel lives, it's definitely the fall's trippiest option.

Check out the trailer below:

22. Smashed (October 12)

Director: James Ponsoldt
Cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Aaron Paul, Octavia Spencer, Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics

Why is it a "Must See"? Earning raves out of the Sundance Film Festival for Mary Elizabeth Winstead's performance as half of an alcoholic couple who decides to get sober ("Breaking Bad" star Aaron Paul plays the other half), this is a dark horse contender for a best actress Oscar nomination.

Check out a featurette below:

23. Detropia (September 7)

Director: Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady
Distributor: Self-distributed

Why is it a "Must See"? Oscar-nominated "Jesus Camp" directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady are going the self-distribution route with their latest, "Detropia."

READ MORE: 'Jesus Camp' Filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady Go DIY With 'Detropia'

Natives of Detroit, Ewing and Grady take four-year look at the city's recessionary struggles. Beautiful and affecting, it's yet another doc alum of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival (which clearly had quite the slate) hitting theaters this Fall.

Check out the film's trailer below:

24. Liberal Arts (September 14)

Director: Josh Radnor
Cast: Josh Radnor, Elizabeth Olsen, Richard Jenkins, Allison Janney, Elizabeth Reaser
Distributor: IFC Films

Why is it a "Must See"? "How I Met Your Mother" follows up his directorial debut "Happythankyoumoreplease" with this story of a thirtysomething guy (Radnor) who falls for a 19 year old college student (Elizabeth Olsen) when he returns to his alma matter. The film got warm notices when it premiered at, yes, Sundance earlier this year.

Check out the trailer below:

25. A Royal Affair (November 9), 26. Sister (October 5) &  27. Tabu (December 26)

Directors: Nikolaj Arcel ("Affair"), Ursula Meier ("Sister"), and Miguel Gomes ("Tabu")
Casts: Mads Mikkelsen, Alicia Vikander, Trine Dyrholm, David Dencik, Mikkel Boe Følsgaard ("Affair"); Léa Seydoux, Kacey Mottet Klein, Martin Compston, Gillian Anderson ("Sister"); Teresa Madruga, Laura Soveral, Ana Moreira, Carloto Cotta ("Tabu")
Distributors: Magnolia Films ("Affair); Adopt Films ("Sister" and "Tabu")

Why Are They "Must Sees"? While much of this list boasts of acclaimed premieres at Cannes and Sundance, a trio of foreign language films came out of the Berlin International Film Festival to rave reviews and U.S. acqusitions. This fall, after all three have their North American premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival, Nikolaj Arcel's Danish "A Royal Affair," Ursula Meier's French-Swiss "Sister," and Miguel Gomes Portuguese's "Tabu" will all make their way to theaters, with foreign language Oscar noms the hope beyond that (last year's winner, "A Separation," premiered in Berlin).

Check out the films' trailers below:

28. Middle of Nowhere (October 12)

Director: Ava DuVernay
Cast: Emayatzy Corinealdi, David Oyelowo, Omari Hardwick, Lorraine Touissant, Edwina Findley
Distributor: AFFRM/Participant

Why is it a "Must See"?  Winner of the best director prize at Sundance, Ava DuVernay's film follows a woman (Emayatzy Corinealdi) who struggles to maintain her marriage and her identity when her husband is incarcerated. Being released theatrically by African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement, it marks a sadly rare fall option starring and directed by African-Americans.

Check out the film's trailer below.

29. Francine (September 12)

Director: Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky
Cast: Melissa Leo
Distributor: Factory 25

Why is it a "Must See"?  Melissa Leo offers her first lead performance since winning an Oscar in a striking, bizarre little film that gives Leo quite a bit to work with.

READ MORE: Melissa Leo On Life After Oscar and Portraying the Craziest Cat Lady in "Francine"

As a troubled, unbalanced woman recently released from prison, her titular Francine copes with her demons through forming unhealthy bonds with a group of cats and dogs she starts collecting.

The film has yet to release a trailer.

30. The Paperboy (October 5)

Director: Lee Daniels
Cast: Zac Efron, Nicole Kidman, John Cusack, Matthew McConaughey
Distributor: Millennium Films

Why is it a "Must See"? For his first film since 2009's "Precious,"  Lee Daniels is taking on "The Paperboy," a fiercely campy crime drama set in the late 1960s. Starring Matthew McConaughey, Nicole Kidman and Zac Efron, the film had a drastically divisive response when it debuted at Cannes earlier this year. But whatever end of the "Paperboy" spectrum you end up on (though most so far are on the negative end), if a film devoting a sizeable amount of screentime to Zac Efron in only white (often rain soaked) briefs, you won't be disappointed either way.

Check out the film's trailer (which gives you a preview of the noted screentime):


  • td97bt | August 29, 2012 8:34 AMReply

    Hey guys,
    Want awesome FREE stuff!?
    Today i'm giving 1 YEAR FREE NETFLIX MEMBERSHIP!
    Go to
    And GET your FREE NetFlix Account.
    PROMOTION END SOON Don't miss this chance.:D

  • 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.