Sundance Film Festival

Dargis: The Indie-Film Crisis Has Passed

The Sundance Film Festival and the American indie film scene it represents have endured ups and downs, flush times and lean, Hollywood love and industry belt-tightening. In recent years, as major studios shut or trimmed down their art house divisions and smaller companies went belly up, things were looking pretty bleak. But now, notes New York Times film critic Manohla Dargis, the indie film world seems to have bounced back, and may be than ever.

“Crisis was the name of the game, and then suddenly it wasn’t,” Dargis writes, continuing:

What happened? Put simply, filmmakers kept on making movies, if increasingly in affordable digital, and distributors, including new faces and studio veterans, found a way to put those moving pictures in front of the audience, both on the big screen and small. As it happens, viewers have developed a taste for noncorporate cinema. And despite the hard economic times they have continued to seek out movies like WINTER’S BONE and THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT, two Sundance breakout titles from last year that went on to find public and critical love and recently picked up a few major Oscar nods. Times are still tough, but American independent cinema turns out to be a movement defined by stubborn true belief and survival.

Sales have been brisk at the festival this year, notes Dargis, but there’s more to it than that.  “As title after title hit screens, the festival affirmed that independent cinema remains a pursuit of hearts and minds and not just a business opportunity or tabloid filler,” she writes. “With the crowds that sometimes gave Park City an unsettling frat house vibe now happily gone and the celebrity circus having pulled up stakes, both the streets and screens seemed newly revitalized and welcoming. Goodbye, Paris Hilton; hello, Brit Marling!”

Marling stars in two films at the Sundance Film Festival this year, SOUND OF MY VOICE, which she helped write, and Mike Cahill’s ANOTHER EARTH, which is among the films Dargis discusses in this piece.

Be sure to satisfy all your festival needs with the latest buzz, top stories, and celebrity interviews from Sundance Channel’s coverage of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.