50 Classic American Independent Films


Empire magazine published a list of the fifty greatest American independent films yesterday.  Of course this list functions as a superficial survey of a film movement that remained undefined until the inception of Robert Redford’s Sundance Film FestivalEmpire’s list covers the popular “classics” of the genre, whose qualifications are as vague and meaningless as those attributed to the genre of Film Noir, negating any mention of such influential filmmakers as Jon Jost, Mark Rappaport, Beth B. & Scott B., Robert Kramer, and Yvonne Rainer.  As a sort of rebuttal on behalf of the film literate and the filmmaker, in equal respect, I have compiled my own list of films.  It goes without saying that such a venture is entirely subjective but not without an objective goal.  The qualifications for inclusion on the Zimbo Films’ list are that a film be a feature that is either historically significant, or aesthetically innovative.  Many of the selected films are both.  In any case, the objective goal of my retort is to raise an interest in films and filmmakers who have remained obscure while at the same time preserving the position of those filmmakers who were able to break out and into the mainstream of Hollywood.  I also believe that it is important to note that, at least as far as I am concerned, Zimbo Films is not about ranking films.  Each audience member and every reader should formulate their own opinions as to which films are truly the best of American Independent filmmaking.  As a result of this conviction the following list has no numerical order attached to the titles.  I encourage every reader to see every film on this list, and if one has seen every film on this list to revisit those films.


Little Fugitive (Engel, 1953)

Faces (Cassavetes, 1968)

Trust (Hartley, 1990)

Ice (Kramer, 1970)

The Offenders (Beth B. & Scott B., 1979)

The Chelsea Girls (Warhol, 1966)

Metropolitan (Stillman, 1990)

Last Chants For A Slow Dance (Jost, 1977)

Southern California (Hock, 1979)

Guns Of The Trees (Mekas, 1961)

The Shooting (Hellman, 1966)

Mikey & Nicky (May, 1976)

Blackout (Ferrara, 1996)

Trash (Morrissey, 1970)

Film About A Woman Who… (Rainer, 1974)

Stranger Than Paradise (Jarmusch, 1984)

Poison (Haynes, 1991)

Him & Me (Benning, 1982)

Rock Hudson’s Home Movies (Rappaport, 1992)

Wanda (Loden, 1971)

The Intruder (Corman, 1963)

A Woman Under The Influence (Cassavetes, 1974)

Killer Of Sheep (Burnett, 1979)

David & Lisa (Perry, 1962)

My Hustler (Warhol, 1965)

Greetings (De Palma, 1968)

Who’s That Knocking At My Door? (Scorsese, 1969)

Bad Lieutenant (Ferrara, 1992)

Unbelievable Truth (Hartley, 1989)

Gray’s Anatomy (Soderbergh, 1996)

Mi Vida Loca (Anders, 1994)

Coming Apart (Ginsberg, 1969)

The Living End (Araki, 1992)

Tracks (Jaglom, 1977)

Sweet Sweet Back’s Badass Song (Van Peebles, 1971)

Down By Law (Jarmusch, 1986)

Eraserhead (Lynch, 1977)

Medium Cool (Wexler, 1969)

George Washington (Green, 2000)

Pink Flamingos (Waters, 1972)

Gummo (Korine, 1997)

To Sleep With Anger (Burnett, 1990)

The Killing Of A Chinese Bookie (Cassavetes, 1976)

Safe (Haynes, 1995)

Daughters Of The Dust (Dash, 1991)

My Own Private Idaho (Van Sant, 1991)

Putney Swope (Downey, 1969)

Maidstone (Mailer, 1970)

Smithereens (Seidelman, 1982)

Trees Lounge (Buscemi, 1996)


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