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Summer Movie Preview: The 50 Indies You Must See (Part 1)

By Indiewire | Indiewire April 22, 2013 at 12:14PM

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 and remakes ("The Hangover Part III," "Fast & Furious 6,""The Smurfs 2," "Kick Ass 2," "Grown Ups 2," "300: Rise of an Empire," etc, etc, etc.), one has to wonder: How much space is left for the little guys?
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"Before Midnight"
Sony Pictures Classics "Before Midnight"

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 and remakes ("The Hangover Part III," "Fast & Furious 6,""The Smurfs 2," "Kick Ass 2," "Grown Ups 2," "300: Rise of an Empire," etc, etc, etc.), one has to wonder: How much space is left for the little guys?

But, while summer as a season will never equal the indie film hotbed that is the fall, in recent years there have actually been quite a few smaller scale breakouts during the studio's favorite months. Last year, for example, summer brought eventual best picture Oscar nominee "Beasts of the Southern Wild" and best documentary Oscar winner "Searching For Sugar Man," not to mention "Moonrise Kingdom," "Take This Waltz," "The Queen of Versailles," "Your Sister's Sister" and "The Loneliest Planet."

That said, summer can be a particularly risky time to release an independent film, partially due to the mass 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 could be hard for some to find that attention, given the plethora of "Iron Man 3" ads blocking the view.

In an attempt to help remedy that, Indiewire is offering this five-part list of 50 specialty films coming out this summer that demand moviegoer consideration, a supplement to Indiewire's film calendar that additionally mentions a few dozen more (including studio offerings).

We realize heading to the theater 50 times in four months is a bit excessive, but there's really something for everyone listed below, so you can narrow down to a more reasonable personally specialized list yourself. From Ryan Gosling to Woody Allen to Jane Austen (sort of), here's the first part of our week-long summer indie preview (in alphabetical order):

A Hijacking (June 21)

Director:
Tobias Lindholm 
Cast: Pilou Asbæk, Søren Malling, Dar Salim, Roland Møller, Gary Skjoldmose Porter, Abdihakin Asgar, Amalie Alstrup
Distributor: Magnolia

Criticwire Average: 18 critics gave it a B+ average.

Why is it a "Must See"? Tobias Lindholm's story of a Danish ship attacked by Somali pirates, "A Hijacking," has won awards at festivals around the world.  A thriller with contemplative moments, the film teases out anticipation as the pirates must negotiate with officials in Copenhagen.  The film -- which leads with a fairly unknown cast from an internationally untested director -- has proven to be a breakout for Lindholm.  Whether American audiences embrace it remains to be seen, but we certainly recommend they do. [Bryce J. Renninger]

Check out the film's trailer:


Ain't Them Bodies Saints (August 16th)

Director: David Lowery
Cast: Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara, Ben Foster, Nate Parker, Keith Carradine
Distributor: IFC Films

Criticwire Average: 21 critics gave it an A- average.

Why is it a "Must See"? Indie multi-hyphenate (and editor of "Upstream Color") David Lowery's outlaw romance was one of the most highly regarded and eagerly anticipated films to come out of Sundance this year. The success landed Lowery the gig of scripting a possible remake of "Pete's Dragon" at Disney, but the elegiac Texas-set "Saints," his second feature, is about as far from a Disney film as you can get. Casey Affleck stars as a prison escapee attempting to reunite with his wife (Rooney Mara), with a detective played by Ben Foster trying to get in their path. The haunting southern atmosphere is bolstered further by cinematography from "Pariah" and "Middle of Nowhere" DP Bradford Young, who is also a rising talent to watch. [Mark E. Lukenbill]

The film doesn't have a trailer out yet, but here's an interview with Lowery with some clips (for some reason care of the Royal Bank of Canada):


This article is related to: Summer Movie Preview, Before Midnight , Austenland, Byzantium, Blue Jasmine, Ain't Them Bodies Saints, Crystal Fairy