What is indie cinema? And the independent cinema? What is one and what is the other? Are indie movies and independent films the same? And the indie cinema and the auteur cinema? Are they the same? And if they are not, how are they different?
These are some of the questions that keep the lovers of the genre up at night trying to search for answers may not be so clear. Let’s clear doubts without analyzing the question in a technical or academic way.
It may seem that the term “indie” is born as a diminutive of “independent” and that consequently, they must be the same, but in reality, they are very different terms, although sometimes it isn’t very clear under which of the two genres it should be.
Classify a film – if it’s closer to the indie cinema or independent cinema – or if the film fits into both genres at the same time. As genres, these ways of making movies began to emerge in the 50s, but until the 60s didn’t have much impact. Indie cinema is called that because generally, has a low budget and is made with its back to the Hollywood industry.
In the beginning, the independent films began to be produced for television, that is why in its early years was called “B movie” because this type of film had much less quality -When in terms of production is concerned- than those of Hollywood, the “A cinema”.
The theme also differentiates independent from commercial cinema. Independent movies deal with more real issues, tell more dramatic stories, and even taboo subjects. In addition to this, without the limitations of Hollywood producers, indie and independent films began to be rebellious and critical of society. “B movies” are born as a provocative and intelligent alternative.
To differentiate them, let’s start from this base: between indie cinema and independent cinema there are a lot of similarities and they share much more between them than with the rest of the film genres; once this premise is accepted, let’s establish the differences that make them different genres.
The first thing that should be pointed out is the fact that unlike other genres that are classified in a genre mainly based on the characteristics of the story that narrates – such as, for example, the cinema of adventure, action, fantasy, of science fiction, western, thriller, etc.-
Indie movies and the independent cinema, besides the characteristics of its storytelling, make use of its narrative and aesthetic particularities to be qualified in one or the other genre. However, with the passing of the decades, this “subculture” began to be exploited by the producers and distributors and has been tempered by commercialization.
On the other hand, and although the independent cinema stays away from the sphere of Hollywood and its Star System, sometimes famous actors renounce their usual salary to experiment with independent film productions. At least in the artistic aspect. Also, indie films have catapulted new talents up to the celebrity A list.
As for indie cinema, it can be said that it is a direct descendant of independent cinema. Both are well placed on the circuits of prestigious international festivals such as, for example, the Sundance Festival, The Tribeca Festival, The SXSW -South by Southwest-, the Vancouver Festival, Stockholm International Festival.
It’s Not About the Money
It can also be said that the film is conceived with an artistic purpose and not as merchandise or a product with artificial and very specific characteristics and designed to address a specific audience that will only seek to consume it. Everything is done in a way that the cinema continues to be art and not a money-making machine.