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Summer 2012 Movie Preview: The 20 Indies You Must See

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire April 30, 2012 at 1:05PM

The summer movie season isn't exactly best known for independent film. With billions of dollars set to be spent on a vast amount of sequels, remakes and board game adaptations ("Ice Age 4," "The Dark Knight Rises," "The Amazing Spider-Man," "Battleship," "The Expendables 2," etc, etc.), one has to wonder: How much space is left for the little guys?
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A promotional image for "Moonrise Kingdom"
A promotional image for "Moonrise Kingdom"

The summer movie season isn't exactly best known for independent film. With billions of dollars set to be spent on a vast amount of sequels, remakes and board game adaptations ("Ice Age 4," "The Dark Knight Rises," "The Amazing Spider-Man," "Battleship," "The Expendables 2," etc, etc.), one has to wonder: How much space is left for the little guys?

But, while summer will never be the independent film hotbed that is the fall, in recent years there have actually been quite a few indie breakouts during the studio's favorite months. Last year, for example, summer brought eventual best picture nominees in "The Tree of Life" and "Midnight in Paris," a slew of fantastic docs in "Cave of Forgotten Dreams," "Buck," and "Senna," and a bunch of excellent imports from the UK  in "Submarine," "The Trip" and "Attack The Block."

That said, summer can be a particularly risky time to release an independent film, partially due to the mass amount of studio pictures with huge advertising budgets that are bogarting three or four screens (or more) in some multiplexes. So, it's also important to look outside the box office. A lot of great films are going to come and go this summer and even if they are destined for meager grosses, they might still deserve moviegoer attention. It just might be hard for some to find that attention, given the plethora of "Battleship" and "Ice Age 4" ads blocking the view.

So in an attempt to help remedy that, Indiewire is offering this list of 20 specialty films coming out this summer that demand moviegoer consideration, a supplement to Indiewire's film calendar that additionally mentions a few dozen more (check out specific listings for May, June, July, and August). From time travel and apocalypses (yes, we're still talking about indies) to vibrators and bootleggers, a summer indie preview:

1. Moonrise Kingdom (May 25)

Director: Wes Anderson
Cast: Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward
Distributor: Focus Features

Why is it a "Must See"? Wes Anderson! The director follows 2009's animated "Fantastic Mr. Fox" with both return to live action and to the youth-oriented narratives that made so many fall in love with his earlier work.

Set in the 1960s, "Moonrise Kingdom" follows a pair of 12 year olds (newcomers Hayward and Gilman) who decide to run away together into the wildnerness.  Their move prompts a considerable search party in their honor, a search part made up of the rest of the film's amazing cast (Swinton, Murray, Norton, McDormand.. though notably, not Owen Wilson for the first time in Anderson history). The film opens the Cannes Film Festival om May 16th, followed quickly by a release Stateside. It's surely the most anticipated films of the summer for Anderson fans, and probably a few Anderson skeptics as well.

Check out the film's trailer: