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US Independent Film After 1989

Possible Films

Edited by Claire Perkins, Constantine Verevis

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A study of US independent films marginalized in and by the rise of ‘indie’ culture

In contemporary film and popular culture the terms ‘independent’ and ‘indie’ hold instant recognition and considerable cultural cachet. As both a brand of American filmmaking and a keynote of critical film discourse, indie denotes specific textual, industrial and reception practices that have been enthusiastically cultivated across the last decade of the twentieth century and the first of the twenty-first. Underpinning this cultural category is a canon of highly visible films and filmmakers whose ‘maverick’ personas and self-aware stylisation have successfully sold indie as a quality, alternative worldview—figures like Quentin Tarantino, Joel and Ethan Coen, Kevin Smith and Wes Anderson, and films like Slacker, Memento, Happiness and Juno.

US Independent Film After 1989: Possible Films reframes this dominant indie canon by attending to a group of films that have not been so fully subsumed by its critical and promotional rhetoric. In 20 close analyses, a diverse range of leading film scholars and commentators allow the contours of the indie sensibility to emerge in and through their individual experiences of a single film that has not received the sustained critical acclaim of more popular titles. With particular representation from female directors—who are almost wholly excluded from the dominant indie canon—these idiosyncratic films are shown to demonstrate central tenets of indie scholarship and simultaneously emphasise the classifying processes that obscure them.

Key Features:

  • Provides 20 textual studies of under-evaluated US indie film
  • Develops an expanded understanding of US indie film culture
  • Identifies the contribution of a community of US indie filmmakers and actors, with a particular emphasis on women practitioners

About the Author

Claire Perkins is Senior Lecturer in Film and Screen Studies at Monash University, Melbourne. She is the author of American Smart Cinema (Edinburgh University Press, 2012) and co-editor of U.S Independent Film After 1989: Possible Films (Edinburgh University Press, 2015), B Is for Bad Cinema: Aesthetics, Politics and Cultural Value (2014) and Film Trilogies: New Critical Approaches (2012).

Constantine Verevis is Associate Professor in Film and Screen Studies at Monash University, Melbourne. He is author of Film Remakes (Edinburgh UP, 2006) and co-author of Australian Film Theory and Criticism, Vol. I: Critical Positions (2013). His co-edited books include Second Takes: Critical Approaches to the Film Sequel (2010), Film Trilogies: New Critical Approaches (2012), B Is for Bad Cinema: Aesthetics, Politics and Cultural Value (2014) and US Independent Film After 1989: Possible Films (2015).


A stimulating new collection of essays that enriches greatly the constantly expanding literature on American independent cinema. Perkins and Verevis have gathered an impressive group of contributors whose thought-provoking discussion of often forgotten, though still important, films challenges existing canons while opening up new and exciting paths in American independent film research, which future studies are bound to follow. Highly recommended!

Yannis Tzioumakis, University of Liverpool