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The 10 Indie Films You Must See This July

The 10 Indie Films You Must See This July

July is about to offer quite the selection to movie-goers, with over 30 films listed on Indiewire’s July calendar.

As an extension of our last month’s summer movie preview, Indiewire is offering the third of four monthly summer “must-see” lists to make cinematic decision-making as easy as possible this summer.

From Ai Weiwei and LCD Soundsystem to a murderous Matthew McConaughey and a planet of snail, check out Indiewire’s picks for your 10 best options, and then check out July’s full calendar, as there are many worthy films that didn’t end up making this list.

1. Ruby Sparks (July 25)

Directors: Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris
Cast: Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Antonio Banderas, Annette Bening, Steve Coogan
Distributor: Fox Searchlight

Why is it a “Must See”? Six years after “Little Miss Sunshine,” directorial team Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris finally give us their follow-up with “Ruby Sparks.”  The film follows a novelist (“Sunshine” breakout Paul Dano) struggling with writer’s block who manages to somehow creating a female character (Zoe Kazan, who also wrote the script) he thinks will love him, and then forcing her into actual existence. Chaos and romance ensue, and early reviews suggest it works out quite nicely (The Playlist went so far as to say “it rings of an instant classic”). This is definitely the most likely to succeed in terms of July indie breakouts.

Check out the film’s trailer:

2. 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 five such films on this list — July is going to be a great month for doc lovers) 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 an intelligent trophy wife, director Lauren Greenfied somewhat accidentally comes across what turns into what Sundance got into trouble for calling “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” is a definite must-see.

Check out the film’s trailer:

3. Alps (July 13)

Director: Giorgos Lanthimos
Cast: Stavros Psyllakis, Aris Servetalis and Johnny Vekris
Distributor: Kino Lorber

Why is it a “Must See”? Giorgos Lanthimos found considerable international acclaim for his 2009 film “Dogtooth,” which went on to surprise pretty much everyone with an Oscar nomination for best foreign language film (not because it was undeserving, but because stuffy Academy voters rarely go for something as dark and unconventional). He’s followed up the film with “Alps,” which has been making its way around the festival circuit since premiering in Venice last August (where it won best screenplay).  The film involves an intimate club of disaffected individuals committed to running the “Alps service,” in which friends and relatives of recently deceased people hire them as “substitutes.” Somewhat less radical than “Dogtooth,” it should still easily please fans of that film.

Check out the film’s trailer:


4. Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (July 27)

Director: Alison Klayman
Distributor: Sundance Selects

Why is it a “Must See”?  “Never Sorry” offers an engrossing take on Chinese artist and activist Al Weiwei. China’s most famous international artist, and its most outspoken domestic critic, Weiwei has seen Chinese authorities shut down his blog, beat him up, bulldoze his newly built studio, and hold him in secret detention.  He offers unprecedented access to filmmaker Alison Klayman, resulting in a detailed portrait of a remarkable man.  

Check out the film’s trailer:

5. Killer Joe (July 27)

Director: William Friedkin
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch, Thomas Haden Church, Juno Temple, Gina Gershon
Distributor: LD Distribution

Why is it a “Must See”?  William Friedkin (into his sixth decade of filmmaking) offers us “Killer Joe” this July, a comedic crime drama about a killer (Matthew McConaughey, continuing a rather incredible year with a rather montrous turn here) who befriends a young man (Emile Hirsch), who in turn wants his mother murdered. Its NC-17 rating — which was unsuccessfully appealed — will hopefully not deter too many folks from showing up to what is one of the more entertaining, original American indies of the summer.

Check out the film’s trailer:

6. Searching For Sugar Man (July 27)

Director: Malik Bendjelloul
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics

Why is it a “Must See”? Yet another must-see doc from Sundance 2012’s impressive crop, Malik Bendjelloul’s “Searching For Sugar Man” follows two South Africans who set out to discover what happened to their unlikely musical hero: The mysterious 1970s rocker Rodriguez. An incredible story that had all of Sundance talking, audiences should definitely go on their own search for “Sugar Man” this July.

Check out the film’s trailer:

7. Trishna (July 13)

Director: Michael Winterbottom
Cast: Freida Pinto, Riz Ahmed and Anurag Kashyap
Distributor: Sundance Selects

Why is it a “Must See”? Michael Winterbottom follows up last year’s wonderful improvised comedy “The Trip” with a very different film: “Trishna,” a modern retelling of  Thomas Hardy’s “Tess of the d’Urbervilles.” Its Winterbottom’s third adaptation of a Hardy work (after “Jude” and “The Claim”), and tells the story of Trishna (Freida Pinto), a woman who meets a wealthy young British businessman (Riz Ahmed) who has come to India to work in his father’s hotel business. Her life unravels as a result, and audiences get yet another worthy film from Winterbottom’s increasingly eclectic filmography.

Check out the film’s trailer:


8. Planet of Snail (July 25)

Director: Yi Seung-jun
Cast: Young-Chan and Soon-Ho
Distributor: The Cinema Guild

Why is it a “Must See”?   “Planet of Snail” — which won the top prize at the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam last fall — is a documentary from up-and-coming Korean filmmaker Yi Seung-jun. But don’t let the title fool you. It’s not a nature documentary about slow-moving slimy creatures. “Planet of Snail” is actually a quietly powerful portrait of Young-Chan, a Korean man who is both deaf and blind (he calls himself a “snail” as he can only communicate through touch).  At the centre of the story is Young-Chan’s relationship with his wife Soon-Ho, who lovingly works as his eyes and ears.

Check out a clip from “Snail”:

9. The Imposter (July 13)

Director: Bart Layton
Distributor: Indomina Releasing

Why is it a “Must See”? Definitely one of the most unusual stories featured in any doc that will come out this year, Bart Layton offers up the stranger-than-fiction tale of “The Imposter.”  In 1994, a 13-year-old boy disappeard without a trace from San Antonio, Texas. Three and a half years later he is allegedly found alive, thousands of miles away in a village in southern Spain (with a story of kidnap and torture to explain his absence). His family brings him home, but things are clearly not quite as they seem. Explaining any further details would ruin the remarkable twists and turns, so just go see for yourself when “The Imposter” hits theaters July 6th.

Check out the film’s trailer:

10. Shut Up And Play The Hits (July 18)

Director: Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace
Distributor: Oscilloscope Laboratories

Why is it a “Must See”? Fans of James Murphy’s LCD Soundsystem should save the date, as Oscilloscope is releasing Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace’s doc about the band’s final gig at Madison Square Garden for one night only on July 18th.  The film premiered at Sundance earlier this year, and offers incredible footage from the show, as a well some considerable insight into the incredible mind of Murphy. Buy advanced tickets here.

Check out the film’s trailer:

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