Why People Need to See More Independent Movies

by Cole Greenberg, Senior Reporter

“I’ve never heard of that movie.”

“I could hardly sit through that.”

“But have you seen Suicide Squad?!”

These are the types of questions and responses I’m bombarded with when I talk to people about films. In the modern age, mainstream blockbusters are so resonant among such huge numbers of people that it’s all that they are interested in when it comes to going to the movies.

Sequels, prequels and reboots are so huge worldwide that they overshadow a vast  treasure trove of films that are so much more invigorating and human than the mainstream market. Audiences miss so many incredible stories by not watching indie movies – those like Annie Hall, Lost In Translation, The Tree of Life, 12 Years A Slave, Boyhood, Birdman, Whiplash, Anomalisa, and Swiss Army Man. Never heard of these? Exactly my point.

Birdman (2014)

These stories are the ones that teach us the most about ourselves, others and life.

Take for instance The Tree of Life. Almost right after its release in 2011, it became one of the most polarizing movies in history. Some immediately hailed it as one of the greatest films ever made, while others said it was one of the worst things they had ever seen. Though it may come off as “boring” and “pointless” to the majority, The Tree of Life is so mesmerizing because it shows the sophisticated and ambiguous nature, the true nature, of life. One of the quotes from the movie, embodying what life means, says, “Help each other. Love everyone. Every leaf. Every ray of light. Forgive.” How could a film with pervasive, meaningless killing show that?

In a world which is so strained and divided, independent cinema gives us movies that feel like life and can connect us closer to the world and the people who live on it. How can we can get that same euphoric feeling from movies with endless violence, mass destruction, and death?

A few months ago, I first saw the trailer for The Girl On the Train, a mystery-thriller, in theaters. When I first saw it, I thought nothing of the gross violence I was seeing on-screen; I was already so used to seeing it in movies.

Boyhood (2014)

But as I kept seeing the trailer again and again, on the Internet, on TV or back at the theater, I started realizing how disgusting these actions were. Even more disturbing was that these actions, including domestic abuse, were being promoted for a movie! People constantly complain about how something must be done to stop domestic abuse, yet they’ll go spend money to sit and watch a movie about it for “entertainment”, gobbling down their candy and soda, and think nothing of it. The number one movie of its opening weekend, The Girl On the Train made 25 million dollars within just four days.

I don’t discourage people from seeing mainstream movies at all; I love a great superhero or sci-fi blockbuster just like the next person. I just hope to encourage others expand their tastes and open up their eyes to see new, fresh stories about people like you and me.

And maybe from those stories you’ll learn something about yourself. Maybe you’ll see something in that one indie movie that’ll encourage you to never give up: to ask out that crush of yours, or to live life to the fullest.

Who knows. Maybe, just maybe, it will change your life.