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What is Indie (again)?

What is Indie (again)?

Unbeknowst to me, my mini-diatribe against The Passion‘s politics has generated a little heat. It’s a good thing, too, because that’s what it was for. I will admit that my definition of indie film was polemical, even reactionary and restrictive, but honestly, I believe there is an element of truth to it.

Allow me to clarify: one of the reasons indie films exist is because they are meant to provide an alternative view — one that is not already being represented in the mainstream. Hence: indie vs. mainstream. By definition, these “indie” films — though as Eugene duly notes, according to me, indie films have already been dead and buried — should counter the prevailing views, should bring out the dreams and dramas of the marginalized.

Why else was the original “indie” movement brought to life by East Village punks, African American trouble-makers, Baton Rouge sexual deviants, New Jersery clerks, gay and lesbian lovers, Long Island intellectuals and women with an attitude? Because — hello! — these people were outsiders, independent, alternative, NOT represented by the mainstream.

I realize nowadays every kid with enough money to buy a DV camera and enough wealthy friends thinks he can be an indie auteur. Perhaps I attach too much hallowed value to this label. Call me a romantic. But when I say “indie,” for the sake of this discussion, I am talking about good and relevant “indie,” not cliched, boring, and mainstream waste-of-time-indie. And yes, of course, indie films don’t have to have a leftist agenda and don’t have to have a low budget and don’t have to show only in arthouses, but frankly, it’s often the best films of the indie movement that fit that model and will continue to do so.

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