Julia Garner in "Electrick Children."
Julia Garner in "Electrick Children."

Julia Garner. Appearing in an astonishing number of films since her debut in Sean Durkin's Martha Marcy May Marlene, Julia Garner recently scored her first lead, playing a Mormon teenager in Rebecca Thomas's Electrick Children. She brings a guileless, magnetic sincerity to her portrayal of young girl pondering her own mysterious pregnancy. [Go HERE for our interview with her.]

Ian Harnarine. New York-based, Trinidadian-Canadian writer/director Ian Harnarine studied nuclear physics, teaches both physics and sound recording at NYU, and won awards at the Toronto Film Festival and Canada's Genies with his short Doubles with Slight Pepper. Now being expanded into a feature, it is about a Trinidadian food vendor confronted with his long-lost, gravely ill father.

Cutter Hodierne. L.A.-based Cutter Hodierne has 2012's best filmmaking story: the saga of his travel to Kenya to make Fishing Without Nets, a riveting short film about a reluctant Somali pirate. The film won the Jury Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.

Alexa Karolinski. Berlin-born, New York-based Alexa Karolinski's first doc, Oma & Bella — a warm portrait of two octogenarian Holocaust survivors — was recently acquired by Oscilloscope. She's currently at work on a short doc about Warhol superstar Billy Name.

Penny Lane and Brian Frye. Currently in post-production, Our Nixon is Lexington, Ky.-based Penny Lane and Brian Frye's debut feature documentary. Using rediscovered archival footage and period songs, it captures, in the words of the filmmakers, "the hubris, tragedy and banality of [the Nixon] presidency."

Jillian Mayer and Lucas Leyva. Jillian Mayer and Lucas Leyva mashed up notorious Southern rappers 2 Live Crew and French art film hero Chris Marker in Life and Freaky Times of Uncle Luke, a short that screened at Sundance and SXSW this year. It's just one of many projects, many of them internet-based, from this team of Miami artists. Alexandre Moors. Paris-born, New York-based Alexandre Moors is a prolific music video director and is also in post on his riveting and disquieting first feature, Blue Caprice, a dark drama about the 2002 Beltway sniper attacks in Washington, D.C.

Julia Pott
Julia Pott

Omar Mullick and Bassam Tariq. The filmmaking team of Omar Mullick and Bassam Tariq recently screened a work-in-progress version of their Marachi, Pakistan-set debut documentary, These Birds Walk, at the True/False Film Festival. A thoughtful portrait of the young boys residing at Pakistan's Edhi Foundation, it's also a universal meditation on the precarious beauty of childhood.

Terence Nance. An obsessively creative romantic drama with a wonderfully elastic form, An Oversimplification of Her Beauty is New York-based writer, director, actor and composer Terence Nance's feature debut. The film premiered in the 2012 New Frontiers section of the Sundance Film Festival before playing New Directors/New Films.

Ornana. Georgia-based film collective Ornana mixes animation and live action in their various short and long-form projects. The animated (notes on) biology was an internet sensation, while Euphonia, a live-action film about a teenager obsessed with recording the world around him, is on its way.

Julia Pott. An elephant, a horse and a monster are the characters in British-born, Brooklyn-based animator Julia Pott's heartbreakingly poignant animated film, Belly. [Go HERE for our interview with her.]

A. G. Rojas. L.A.-based A.G. Rojas has brought his sometimes surreal, sometimes shocking storytelling sensibility to music videos from Spiritualized, Jack White and Earl Sweatshirt. His equally astonishing short film, Crown, is currently on the festival circuit.

Kim Sherman. Columbia, Mo.-based producer Kim Sherman is behind some of the year's best independent films, including Amy Seimetz's Sun Don't Shine and Adam Wingard's You're Next. She's also the producer of a film by another of this year's 25 -- Hannah Fidell's A Teacher -- and she drums in the rock band Jerusalem and the Starbaskets.

Jason Tippet and Elisabeth Mims.
After meeting at CalArts, filmmakers Jason Tippet and Elisabeth Mims developed a visually striking, deeply empathetic documentary style, seen clearly in their debut feature, Only the Young. After premiering this year at True/False, it went on to the win the Grand Prize at Silverdocs. [Go HERE for our interview with the two.]

"In the Family" Directed by Patrick Wang
"In the Family" Directed by Patrick Wang
Wu Tsang. Wu Tsang impacted both the film and art worlds this year with Wildness, a politically questioning, playfully engaging portrait of the Los Angeles trans bar Silver Platter. The feature played MoMA's Documentary Fortnight, Hot Docs, SXSW and Outfest, while an installation version showed at the 2012 Whitney Biennial.

Patrick Wang. First-time filmmaker Patrick Wang's In the Family, an intense and thoughtful drama about a gay man facing child custody issues, was a sleeper indie success this past year. Currently in extended theatrical release, it was nominated for a Best First Feature Spirit Award. [Go HERE for a first person written by Wang, exclusive to Indiewire.]

Treva Wurmfeld. Dividing her time between Los Angeles, New York and Austin, director Treva Wurmfeld is completing her debut doc, Shepard and Dark, which chronicles a decades-long, mostly epistolary relationship between actor and playwright Sam Shepard and his friend Johnny Dark.