Declare Your Independents: Volume 1

July 18th, 2013 by

Hi Black List Community!

My name’s Wendy Cohen and I’m Scott’s development assistant here at GITS. I want to welcome you to the inaugural post of Declare Your Independents, our new weekly series spotlighting what’s happening in the world of indie film. This platform’s very much evolving and Scott and I are very eager for your input as we move forward. This week, we’re covering this weekend’s new specialty releases, plus some films already in theaters and on VOD that might appeal to your inner cinefile.

But before we get to this week’s overview, just a few bases to cover:

  • Scott and I encourage any of you who go to see an independent movie to post your reactions to the film in those posts. Good, bad, indifferent, whatever, let’s create whatever minimal amount of buzz we can. And certainly if there’s a film you want to recommend, do it. Use your words to inspire readers to magically transport themselves out of the Barcolounger and into a local cinema that embraces subtitles.
  • When you go to the theater, why not whip out your cellphone and snap a shot of something that demonstrates you were there? A photo of the movie poster in the lobby. A shot of your ticket stubs. An image of the movie theater itself. You and your iconoclastic indie film freaks.
  • For any conversations on Twitter re: this initiative, let’s use these two hashtags: #independents and #declareyourindependents
  • While we’re at it, why not add our photos to CydM’s fantastic Pintrest page for everyone to enjoy?

The possibilities are endless!

We’re excited to hear your feedback.



Girl Most Likely

Kristen Wiig stars as Imogene, a failed New York playwright awkwardly navigating the transition from Next Big Thing to Last Year’s News. After both her career and relationship hit the skids, she’s forced to make the humiliating move back home to New Jersey with her eccentric mother and younger brother (Annette Bening and Christopher Fitzgerald). Adding further insult to injury, there’s a strange man sleeping in her old bedroom (Darren Criss) and an even stranger man sleeping in her mother’s bed (Matt Dillon). Through it all, Imogene eventually realizes that as part of her rebuilding process she must finally come to love and accept both her family and her Jersey roots if she’s ever going to be stable enough to get the hell away from them.

You can read an interview with the directors here and Variety‘s profile on the writer Michelle Morgan here.

Only God Forgives

Ryan Gosling and the director of DRIVE, Nicolas Winding Refn, are back with this visionary Bangkok-set thriller. Julien (Gosling) is a drug kingpin tasked with avenging his brother’s death, but a mysterious, unhinged policeman is following his every move.

Read Esquire‘s interview with writer/director Nicolas Winding Refn here.

The Act of Killing

When the Indonesian government was overthrown in 1965, small-time gangster Anwar Congo and his friends went from selling movie tickets on the black market to leading anti-communist death squads in the mass murder of over a million people. Anwar boasts of killing hundreds with his own hands, but he’s lived in his country with impunity ever since. When approached to make a film about their role in the genocide, Anwar and his friends eagerly comply—but their idea of being in a movie is not to provide reflective testimony, but to dance their way through musical numbers, twist arms in film noir gangster scenes, and gallop across the prairies as yodeling cowboys. A cinematic fever dream, THE ACT OF KILLING presents a gripping conflict between moral imagination and moral catastrophe.


Many of us have experienced the excitement and awe of watching 8,000 pound orcas, or “killer whales,” soar out of the water and fly through the air at sea parks, as if in perfect harmony with their trainers. Yet, in our contemporary lore this mighty black and white mammal is like a two-faced Janus—beloved as a majestic, friendly giant yet infamous for its capacity to kill viciously. Blackfish unravels the complexities of this dichotomy, employing the story of notorious performing whale Tilikum, who—unlike any orca in the wild—has taken the lives of several people while in captivity. So what exactly went wrong?


A team of detectives (Stephen Moyer and Radha Mitchell) attempt to piece together what happened at the scene of a brutal massacre using a number of recording devices found at the crime scene. The footage reveals a group of bus passengers who were forced to fight for their lives after they crash in the middle of the desert and a mysterious killer violently murders them one by one.

Read about the original spec sale tracked on GITS here, and Scott’s Q&A with the writer here.

Big Words

Three Brooklyn rappers who once seemed poised for stardom experience an unexpected reunion as Barack Obama gets sworn into office, and they reflect on their youthful dreams while forging a new path into the future.

Terms and Conditions May Apply

Admit it: you don’t really read the endless terms and conditions connected to every website you visit, phone call you make or app you download. But every day, billion-dollar corporations are learning more about your interests, your friends and family, your finances, and your secrets… and are not only selling the information to the highest bidder, but freely sharing it with the government. And you agreed to all of it. With fascinating examples and so-unbelievable-they’re-almost-funny facts, filmmaker Cullen Hoback exposes what governments and corporations are legally taking from you every day – turning the future of both privacy and civil liberties uncertain. From whistle blowers and investigative journalists to zombie fan clubs and Egyptian dissidents, this disquieting exposé demonstrates how every one of us has incrementally opted-in to a real-time surveillance state, click by click- and what, if anything, can be done about it.


Crystal Fairy

In this Sundance favorite Michael Cera (Juno, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) invites an eccentric woman on a road trip with his friends. His devil-may-care journey however soon becomes a battle of wills, as the two lock horns before they try a hallucinogenic concoction.

Read /Film‘s interview with Cera and writer/director Sebastian Silva here.

20 Feet from Stardom

Millions know their voices, but no one knows their names. In his compelling new film 20 FEET FROM STARDOM, award-winning director Morgan Neville shines a spotlight on the untold true story of the backup singers behind some of the greatest musical legends of the 21st century. Triumphant and heartbreaking in equal measure, the film is both a tribute to the unsung voices who brought shape and style to popular music and a reflection on the conflicts, sacrifices and rewards of a career spent harmonizing with others.

The Hunt

The Hunt is a disturbing depiction of how a lie becomes the truth when gossip, doubt and malice are allowed to flourish and ignite a witch-hunt that soon threatens to destroy an innocent man’s life. Mads Mikkelsen plays Lucas, a highly-regarded school teacher who has been forced to start over having overcome a tough divorce. Just as things are starting to go his way, his life is shattered. An untruthful remark throws the small community into a collective state of hysteria. The lie is spreading and Lucas is forced to fight a lonely fight for his life and dignity.

The Bling Ring

From Oscar award winning writer and director Sofia Coppola, THE BLING RING tells the story, based on actual events, of a group of teenagers obsessed with fashion and celebrity that burglarize celebrities’ homes in Los Angeles. Tracking their targets’ whereabouts online, they break-in and steal their designer clothes and possessions. Reflecting on the naiveté of youth and the mistakes we all make when young, amplified by today’s culture of celebrity and luxury brand obsession, we see through the members of the ‘Bling Ring’ temptations that almost any teenager would feel. What starts out as teenage fun spins out of control and leaves us with a sobering view of our culture today.

Frances Ha

Frances (Greta Gerwig) lives in New York, but she doesn’t really have an apartment. Frances is an apprentice for a dance company, but she’s not really a dancer. Frances has a best friend named Sophie, but they aren’t really speaking anymore. Frances throws herself headlong into her dreams, even as their possible reality dwindles. Frances wants so much more than she has, but lives her life with unaccountable joy and lightness.

Gerwig talks about the co-writing process with director Noah Baumbach here.

Before Midnight

The third installment of Richard Linklater’s “Before” trilogy finds Jesse and Celine nine years after their last rendezvous. Almost two decades have passed since their first encounter on a train bound for Vienna, and we now find them in their early forties in Greece. Before the clock strikes midnight, we will again become part of their story.

Richard Linklater describes his writing collaboration with the film’s stars here.

And don’t forget Indiewire’s list of The 10 Indies to Watch on VOD This July and 5 Netflix Streaming Titles You May Not Know Are Available & May Want To Check Out.

A note from Scott: The idea behind Declare Your Independents is simple: Rather than just complaining about the lack of quality movies Hollywood is producing, let’s do something proactive and increase our support of independent cinema. I’m excited that every week, Wendy will be posting a guide to what’s happening in the indie film world, providing key content to help inform the choices we make on which movies to see. And this is just the beginning of this initiative as we are kicking around ideas involving crowdsourcing audio and video from live events featuring indie filmmakers, interviews with artists and producers involved in the indie film world and more.

So like Wendy says, if you have any suggestions or ideas, please feel free to post in comments.

Declare Your Independents!

4 thoughts on “Declare Your Independents: Volume 1

  1. D A Morris says:

    Excellent idea!

    I don’t know if THE EAST (a brilliant piece of writing/acting by Brit Marling as a corporate spy who infiltrates a nest of eco-terrorists)) or THE ICEMAN (with an explosive performance by Michael Shannon as contract killer Richard Kuklinski) have been mentioned at GITS, but they would be on my list of must=see indies for this year.

  2. Static says:

    Loved THE EAST as well. Wasn’t totally sure what to expect going in, but really, really liked it. One of my favs this year.

  3. Jerry Glover says:

    What? No love for Fruitvale Station? It expands in 18 new cities this weekend. Director Ryan Coogler’s feature debut starring Michael B. Jordan (Friday Night Lights, The Wire) and Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer.

  4. CydM says:

    I sure hope some of these expand because it’s pretty slim pickins’ around here.

    Please do make an indie manifesto and put it on video. Cast a net over the internet (was that too cute?). People don’t know there are options, so they quit going to see films. Vendors stop showing them because there’s no money.

    What are your video capabilities? Just a thought, but something like MJ’s Black Or White with a wide spectrum of people morphing into each other as some sort of tagline repeats, such as “I want story back, I want to hear my voice, your voice, their voice, the voice of independent story.” OK, someone jump off from there with a better idea (gotta start somewhere) :-)

    Included in the manifesto might be support of indie filmmakers with sites such as (not as commercial as kickstarter and the campaign doesn’t have to be completely funded to receive pledged funds). Here’s one that went over what they were asking for.

    And it wouldn’t hurt to connect with indie writers busting through the gates. Many of those writers want to move into film, and many adept writers and producers can find killer material in that community. And lemme tell you, those writers are tough. They’ve been in the fight for some time now and are coming together in strong communities.

    Thank you so much for taking a stand on this and the time-exhaustive curation in bringing these films to our attention. As a start, we can start tweeting and sharing on FB and other social media.

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