Explore the world of original plots and unique storytelling with Sylvy, a film major and chronic indie fan. She will steer you toward the best that independent cinema has to offer at home and abroad, past and present.
Now go get the popcorn ready…
By Sylvana Fernandez
It’s a great time for the independent film lover. There are plenty of ways to get the kinds of movies you like no matter what the budget is (or is not). But finding your favorite titles or your soon-to-be favorites can be a little confusing with so many options available. Sylvy to the rescue! I’ve put together the best places to find indie films, both online and elsewhere.
Internet rental sites like Blockbuster Total Access and Netflix have boomed in the past few years but most people don’t even know that both offer indie films. Netflix is impressive with 1,300 U.S independent titles and a whopping 9,100 foreign DVDs. Blockbuster only offers 100 American and 300 foreign indie films, but its collection of releases from the four major world film festivals (Berlin, Cannes, Sundance and Venice) is a must for current members.
A third Internet rental option is the Chicago-based Facets Multi Media (facets.org), which only offers indie movies. With 65,000 titles and unlimited rentals for a $24 per month membership fee, it’s a great choice for hardcore indie film fans. Facet also sells DVDs and gives members a 10% discount off purchases.
For those of you who don’t like to rent, Amazon.com’s Unbox Indie program lets you preview hundreds of movies before buying and instantly downloading them to your computer.
Another Web site to visit is indieflix.com, which sells indie movies in 24 categories for prices that start at $2.95. It also makes finding titles easy with title and filmmaker search engines along with lists of films that premiered at national and international film festivals. To top it off, it has an “R U an Indie Film Virgin?” section that recommends indie flicks you’ll like based on your taste in mainstream releases. The selection is not the widest, but if all else fails or if you’re interested in finding a new underground fave it’s worth a look.
For the short-on-cash crowd, there are also a few commercial-free indie film channels that might come with your cable or satellite service. The Independent Film Channel (IFC) is my personal favorite because it screens really obscure films, including ’80s and ’70s grindhouse features on Friday nights and films by theme under their “Genre of the Month”. IFC is available nationwide and also shows shorts and series on the web at ifc.com.
Another nationwide channel is the Sundance Channel, which, contrary to popular belief, doesn’t just show movies that came out at Sundance. The added benefit with the Sundance Channel is that you can usually buy the films and docs featured by going to sundancechannelstore.com or to the movie download area of iTunes.
It used to be that watching independent films was an opportunity that was only given to those fortunate enough to live in a city with a film festival of its own, and even then, that just meant a week or two of screenings a year. Luckily that’s no longer the case: whether you want to rent, buy or just watch, there is a service that can deliver, usually straight to your living room.
“The best place to rent indie films in South Florida: www.lionvideo.com Voted the best by the Miami Herald and shamelessly plugged by film professors, this store really does live up to its reputation. A dream come true for foreign indie fans, it has locations in Coral Gables, Shorecrest, and will be opening one in Naples soon.”