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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?

6. The Queen of Versailles (July 6)

Director: Lauren Greenfield
Distributor: Magnolia Pictures

Why is it a "Must See"? This highly buzzed about documentary from the Sundance Film Festival (one of four such films on this list) follows a glimpse into the extremely wealthy lives of David and Jackie Siegel. He the CEO of the largest timeshare corporation in the country, she something of a trophy wife, director Lauren Greenfied somewhat accidentally comes across what turns into a riches-to-less-riches story. While documenting the development of their 90,000 sq. foot home (to be the largest in America), the 2008 financial crisis hits and David is all of a sudden in trouble. Timely and crowd-pleasing, "Versailles" could be this summer's big doc breakout.

Check out this preview clip:


7. Lawless (August 31)

Director: John Hillcoat
Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska
Distributor: The Weinstein Company

Why is it a "Must See"? Recently tapped for the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, John Hillcoat's follow-up to "The Road" (previously titled both "The Wettest County" and "The Promised Land"), gives us a pretty stunning cast in LaBeouf, Hardy, Oldman, Chastain and Wasikowska. Together they help portray the story of three brothers who find their bootlegging business under threat in Prohibition-era Virginia. Based on the 2008 historical novel by Matt Bondurant, you'll have to wait until the tale-end of the summer to catch the film. After numerous delays, the film finally opens on August 31st.

Check out the film's trailer:

8. Your Sister's Sister (June 15) & 9. Safety Not Guaranteed (June 8)

Directors: Lynn Shelton ("Sister"); Colin Trevorrow ("Safety")
Cast: Emily Blunt, Rosemarie Dewitt and Mark Duplass ("Sister"); Aubrey Plaza, Jake M. Johnson and Mark Duplass again ("Safety)
Distributors: Sundance Selects ("Sister"); Film District ("Safety")

Why Are They "Must Sees"? Mark Duplass double feature! Though the similarities pretty much end there, save the fact that both have had well-recieved runs on the festival circuit.

The "Jeff Who Lives at Home" writer and director stars in two indie films this summer (in addition to studio offering "People Like Us" and the release of Mark and brother Jay Duplass's first film "The Do-Deca-Pentathlon"), Lynn Shelton's "Your Sister's Sister" and Colin Trevorrow's "Safety Not Guaranteed." The former sees him starring alongside Emily Blunt and Rosemarie Dewitt in a heavily improvised comedic drama about a revealing weekend at the cottage between two sisters and their friend. The latter is based on an internet meme that originated from a newspaper classified ad by a person (played by Duplass in the film) asking for someone to accompany him in time travel.  Both are unlike anything else playing in theaters this summer, and that's a good thing.

Check out the films' trailers:


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