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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?

2. To Rome, With Love (June 22) &  3. 2 Days in New York (August 10)

Directors: Woody Allen ("Rome") and Julie Delpy ("New York")
Casts: Alec Baldwin, Penelope Cruz, Roberto Benigni, Judy Davis, Jesse Eisenberg, Ellen Page, Greta Gerwig and Allen himself ("Rome"); Chris Rock, Albert Delby, Alexia Landeau and Julie Delpy herself ("New York")
Distributors: Sony Pictures Classics ("Rome") and Magnolia Pictures ("New York")

Why Are They "Must Sees"? Besides each being named after cities, "To Rome, With Love" and "2 Days in Paris" are each romantic-ish, talky comedies in which their directors (one playing an American in Europe, the other playing a European in America) also star. 

"Rome" marks Woody Allen's first acting role in one of his films since 2006's "Scoop," and he's joined by a typically expansive cast that includes previous collaborators Cruz and Davis.  Few have seen it, but the film is said to be told in four vignettes, each set in Rome. It's unclear what the quality level will be, as Allen clearly hits ("Midnight in Paris") as much as he misses ("You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger") these days, and two in a row seems like asking a bit much.

More clear is that question relating to "2 Days in New York," which premiered at Sundance earlier this year to generally positive reviews. Working as a sequel-of-sorts to Delpy's "2 Days in Paris," the film stars Delpy as Marion, a woman living in New York with a child from a previous relationship (see "Paris") and her new boyfriend (Rock) and his child.  When Marion's family arrives from France (including Delpy's actual father Albert), chaos ensues. Which sounds a little bit like the plot a Woody Allen movie...

Check out the films' trailers:

4. Beasts of the Southern Wild (June 27)

Director: Benh Zeitlin
Cast: Quvenzhané Wallis and Dwight Henry
Distributor: Fox Searchlight

Why is it a "Must See"? Winner of the Sundance Film Festival's Grand Jury Prize for US Narrative Filmmaking, "Beasts of the Southern Wild" follows an impressive line of recent winners including "Frozen River," "Precious" and "Winter's Bone." And with good reason. This gorgeous, lyrical fable of a film won over pretty much everyone that saw it at Sundance, and is likely to be one of the year's most acclaimed indies.  It follows six year old Hushpuppy (Wallis, in a remarkable performance), who leaves faces great obstacles in her father's fading health, impending environmental doom and a search for her mother. It all culminates in a sequence sure to leave you breathless, and in awe of newcomer Zeitlin's directorial capabilities.

Check out this featurette:

5. Take This Waltz (June 29)

Director: Sarah Polley
Cast: Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen, Luke Kirby and Sarah Silverman
Distributor: Magnolia Pictures

Why is it a "Must See"? Sarah Polley's highly anticipated directorial follow-up to "Away From Her," "Take This Waltz" stars Michelle Williams as Margot, a 28 year old aspiring writer married for 5 years to Lou (Seth Rogen), a chicken cookbook author who clearly adores her.  But their relationship is somewhat stagnant despite its sweetness, and Margot is definitely not entirely satisfied. With Lou, or with anything. Enter sexy artist dude Daniel (Luke Kirby), who she meets and flirts with on a work trip only to find out he lives across the street. And of course, here comes trouble. But it's not the sort of trouble you might expect. Polley handles the narrative distinctly, never relying on convention. A sort of anti-romantic comedy, you won't regret taking this "Waltz."

Check out the film's trailer:

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