100 American Independent Films (BFI Screen Guide)by TheWanderingFish | created - 25 Jan 2012 | updated - 25 Jan 2012 | Public
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2. Another Girl Another Planet (1992)
62 min | Drama
An ordinary-looking guy proves to be an unusually successful womanizer, and his East Village apartment begins to assume aspects of Grand Central Station.
3. Bad Lieutenant (1992)
NC-17 | 96 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller
While investigating a young nun's rape, a corrupt New York City police detective, with a serious drug and gambling addiction, tries to change his ways and find forgiveness.
Votes: 32,542 | Gross: $2.00M
6. Billy Jack (1971)
GP | 114 min | Action, Drama
Ex-Green Beret hapkido expert saves wild horses from being slaughtered for dog food and helps protect a desert "freedom school" for runaway.
Votes: 4,819 | Gross: $98.00M
7. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
R | 81 min | Horror, Mystery
Three film students vanish after traveling into a Maryland forest to film a documentary on the local Blair Witch legend, leaving only their footage behind.
Votes: 206,564 | Gross: $140.54M
8. Blood Simple. (1984)
R | 99 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller
A rich but jealous man hires a private investigator to kill his cheating wife and her new man. But, when blood is involved, nothing is simple.
Votes: 74,650 | Gross: $2.15M
10. Born in Flames (1983)
Not Rated | 80 min | Comedy, Drama, Sci-Fi
Set ten years after the most peaceful revolution in United States history, a revolution in which a socialist government gains power, this films presents a dystopia in which the issues of ... See full summary »
11. Boys Don't Cry (1999)
R | 118 min | Biography, Crime, Drama
Female-born Teena Brandon adopts his male identity of Brandon Teena and attempts to find himself and love in Nebraska.
Votes: 83,624 | Gross: $11.53M
12. Boyz n the Hood (1991)
R | 112 min | Crime, Drama
Follows the lives of three young males living in the Crenshaw ghetto of Los Angeles, dissecting questions of race, relationships, violence and future prospects.
Votes: 105,190 | Gross: $57.50M
13. Brick (2005)
R | 110 min | Action, Crime, Drama
A teenage loner pushes his way into the underworld of a high school crime ring to investigate the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend.
Votes: 91,396 | Gross: $2.06M
14. Buffalo '66 (1998)
R | 110 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama
After being released from prison, Billy is set to visit his parents with his wife, whom he does not actually have. This provokes Billy to act out, as he kidnaps a girl and forces her to act as his wife for the visit.
Votes: 40,412 | Gross: $2.38M
15. Candy Mountain (1987)
R | 91 min | Drama
A struggling musician sets out to find the legendary guitar maker Elmore Silk, with whom he hopes to strike a deal to make himself rich and famous.
16. Chain (2004)
99 min | Drama
As regional character disappears and corporate culture homogenizes our surroundings, it's increasingly hard to tell where you are. Actual malls, theme parks, hotels and corporate centers ... See full summary »
17. Chan Is Missing (1982)
Not Rated | 80 min | Drama, Mystery
Two cabbies search San Francisco's Chinatown for a mysterious character who has disappeared with their $4000. Their quest leads them on a humorous, if mundane, journey which illuminates the... See full summary »
18. Clean, Shaven (1993)
Unrated | 79 min | Crime, Drama
After a man suffering from schizophrenia is released from a mental institution, he attempts to get his daughter back from her adoptive family.
19. Clerks (1994)
R | 92 min | Comedy
A day in the lives of two convenience clerks named Dante and Randal as they annoy customers, discuss movies, and play hockey on the store roof.
Votes: 193,722 | Gross: $3.15M
21. Daughters of the Dust (1991)
TV-PG | 112 min | Drama, History, Romance
Languid look at the Gullah culture of the sea islands off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia where African folk-ways were maintained well into the 20th Century and was one of the last ... See full summary »
Votes: 1,266 | Gross: $1.64M
23. Donnie Darko (2001)
R | 113 min | Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller
A troubled teenager is plagued by visions of a man in a large rabbit suit who manipulates him to commit a series of crimes, after he narrowly escapes a bizarre accident.
Votes: 657,059 | Gross: $0.19M
29. Eraserhead (1977)
Not Rated | 89 min | Horror
Henry Spencer tries to survive his industrial environment, his angry girlfriend, and the unbearable screams of his newly born mutant child.
Votes: 82,521 | Gross: $7.00M
31. Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965)
Not Rated | 83 min | Action, Comedy
Three go-go dancers holding a young girl hostage come across a crippled old man living with his two sons in the desert. After learning he's hiding a sum of cash around, the women start scheming on him.
32. Gas, Food Lodging (1992)
R | 101 min | Drama, Romance
In the boring desert of New Mexico, a single mother raises her two teenage daughters, Shade and Trudi, whose deepest desire is to leave the dead calm town. Shade is the type to escape in ... See full summary »
Votes: 2,940 | Gross: $1.35M
34. Girlfight (2000)
R | 110 min | Drama, Sport
Diana, without her father knowing it, trains as a boxer and achieves impressive success, blazing new trails for female boxers.
Votes: 8,624 | Gross: $1.52M
35. Go Fish (1994)
R | 83 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance
Max is a trendy, pretty, young lesbian, who is having trouble finding love. A friend sets her up with Ely, whom Max likes, but Ely is frumpy, homely, and older. Nor do they have much in ... See full summary »
Votes: 1,777 | Gross: $2.41M
37. Half Nelson (2006)
R | 106 min | Drama
An inner-city junior high school teacher with a drug habit forms an unlikely friendship with one of his students after she discovers his secret.
Votes: 77,246 | Gross: $2.69M
39. Hoop Dreams (1994)
PG-13 | 170 min | Documentary, Drama, Sport
A film following the lives of two inner-city Chicago boys who struggle to become college basketball players on the road to going professional.
Votes: 21,199 | Gross: $7.83M
40. In Search of a Midnight Kiss (2007)
90 min | Comedy, Romance
Broke and alone on New Year's Eve, Wilson just wants to spend the rest of a very bad year in bed. But, when his best friend convinces him to post a personal ad, he meets a woman bent on finding the right guy to be with at midnight.
Votes: 7,575 | Gross: $0.17M
41. In the Company of Men (1997)
R | 97 min | Comedy, Drama
Two business executives--one an avowed misogynist, the other recently emotionally wounded by his love interest--set out to exact revenge on the female gender by seeking out the most innocent, uncorrupted girl they can find and ruining her life.
Votes: 12,126 | Gross: $2.86M
42. Junebug (2005)
R | 106 min | Comedy, Drama
A dealer in "outsider" art travels from Chicago to North Carolina to meet her new in-laws, challenging the equilibrium of this middle class Southern home.
Votes: 20,062 | Gross: $2.68M
45. Killer of Sheep (1978)
80 min | Drama
Set in the Watts area of Los Angeles, a slaughterhouse worker must suspend his emotions to continue working at a job he finds repugnant, and then he finds he has little sensitivity for the family he works so hard to support.
Votes: 5,043 | Gross: $0.40M
47. The Last Seduction (1994)
R | 110 min | Crime, Drama, Romance
A devious sexpot steals her husband's drug money and hides out in a small town where she meets the perfect dupe for her next scheme.
Votes: 17,750 | Gross: $6.14M
48. The Living End (1992)
Unrated | 81 min | Comedy, Drama
Luke is a gay hustler. Jon is a movie critic. Both are HIV positive. They go on a hedonistic, dangerous journey, their motto "Fuck the world".
Votes: 2,188 | Gross: $0.69M
49. Living in Oblivion (1995)
R | 90 min | Comedy, Drama
Film about filmmaking. It takes place during one day on set of non-budget movie. Ultimate tribute to all independent filmmakers.
Votes: 14,038 | Gross: $1.15M
53. Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005)
R | 91 min | Comedy, Drama
A lonely shoe salesman and an eccentric performance artist struggle to connect in this unique take on contemporary life.
Votes: 32,767 | Gross: $3.89M
56. Metropolitan (1990)
PG-13 | 98 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance
A group of young upper-class Manhattanites are blithely passing through the gala debutante season, when an unusual outsider joins them and stirs them up.
Votes: 8,008 | Gross: $2.94M
57. Mutual Appreciation (2005)
R | 109 min | Comedy
Alan is a musician who leaves a busted-up band for New York, and a new musical voyage. He tries to stay focused and fends off all manner of distractions, including the attraction to his good friend's girlfriend.
Votes: 1,633 | Gross: $0.10M
58. Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
PG | 96 min | Comedy
A listless and alienated teenager decides to help his new friend win the class presidency in their small western high school, while he must deal with his bizarre family life back home.
Votes: 174,752 | Gross: $44.54M
59. Nashville (1975)
R | 160 min | Comedy, Drama, Music
Over the course of a few hectic days, numerous interrelated people prepare for a political convention as secrets and lies are surfaced and revealed.
Votes: 19,718 | Gross: $9.98M
60. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Not Rated | 96 min | Horror
There is panic throughout the nation as the dead suddenly come back to life. The film follows a group of characters who barricade themselves in an old farmhouse in an attempt to remain safe from these bloodthirsty, flesh-eating monsters.
Votes: 98,240 | Gross: $0.09M
62. On the Bowery (1956)
Not Rated | 65 min | Documentary, Drama
At the time of this film, the Bowery was a neighborhood in New York City populated largely by the down and out, and largely by transients. Those that can work generally can only find short ... See full summary »
Votes: 666 | Gross: $0.01M
63. Parting Glances (1986)
90 min | Drama, Music, Romance
As Michael and Robert, a gay couple in New York, prepare for Robert's departure for a two-year work assignment in Africa, Michael must face Robert's true motives for leaving while dealing ... See full summary »
Votes: 2,383 | Gross: $0.54M
65. Pink Flamingos (1972)
NC-17 | 93 min | Comedy, Crime
Notorious Baltimore criminal and underground figure Divine goes up against a sleazy married couple who make a passionate attempt to humiliate her and seize her tabloid-given title as "The Filthiest Person Alive".
Votes: 18,741 | Gross: $0.18M
66. Poison (1991)
R | 85 min | Drama, Horror, Romance
Three intercut stories about outsiders, sex and violence. In "Hero," Richie, at age 7, kills his father and flies away. After the event, a documentary in cheesy lurid colors asks what ... See full summary »
Votes: 2,840 | Gross: $0.61M
68. Reservoir Dogs (1992)
R | 99 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller
After a simple jewelry heist goes terribly wrong, the surviving criminals begin to suspect that one of them is a police informant.
Votes: 762,405 | Gross: $2.83M
69. Return of the Secaucus Seven (1979)
R | 104 min | Drama
Seven former college friends, along with a few new friends, gather for a weekend reunion at a summer house in New Hampshire to reminisce about the good old days, when they got arrested on the way to a protest in Washington, DC.
Votes: 1,764 | Gross: $2.00M
70. Roger & Me (1989)
R | 91 min | Documentary
Votes: 24,027 | Gross: $6.71M
71. Salt of the Earth (1954)
Not Rated | 94 min | Drama, History
Mexican workers at a Zinc mine call a general strike. It is only through the solidarity of the workers, and importantly the indomitable resolve of their wives, mothers and daughters, that they eventually triumph.
73. Secretary (2002)
R | 107 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance
A young woman, recently released from a mental hospital, gets a job as a secretary to a demanding lawyer, where their employer-employee relationship turns into a sexual, sadomasochistic one.
Votes: 73,713 | Gross: $4.06M
74. Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989)
R | 100 min | Drama
A sexually repressed woman's husband is having an affair with her sister. The arrival of a visitor with a rather unusual fetish changes everything.
Votes: 41,921 | Gross: $24.74M
76. Sherman's March (1985)
Not Rated | 157 min | Documentary, Biography, Comedy
Ross McElwee sets out to make a documentary about the lingering effects of General Sherman's march of destruction through the South during the Civil War, but is continually sidetracked by ... See full summary »
79. Shotgun Stories (2007)
PG-13 | 92 min | Drama, Thriller
Shotgun Stories tracks a feud that erupts between two sets of half brothers following the death of their father. Set against the cotton fields and back roads of Southeast Arkansas, these ... See full summary »
Votes: 8,571 | Gross: $0.05M
80. Slacker (1991)
R | 97 min | Comedy, Drama
A day in the life of Austin, Texas as the camera roams from place to place and provides a brief look at the overeducated, the social misfits, the outcasts and the oddballs.
Votes: 16,896 | Gross: $1.23M
82. Strange Culture (2007)
75 min | Documentary
A documentary in which actors interpret the legally touchy subject of artist Steve Kurtz, who is being held as a suspected terrorist because of his work.
83. Stranger Than Paradise (1984)
R | 89 min | Comedy, Drama
A New Yorker's life is thrown into a tailspin when his younger cousin surprise visits him, starting a strange, unpredictable adventure.
Votes: 28,617 | Gross: $2.44M
85. Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (1971)
R | 97 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller
After saving a Black Panther from some racist cops, a black male prostitute goes on the run from "the man" with the help of the ghetto community and some disillusioned Hells Angels.
Votes: 3,728 | Gross: $15.18M
86. Swoon (1992)
Unrated | 93 min | Crime, Drama
The true story of gay lovers, Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold Jr. who kidnapped and murdered a child in the early 1920s for kicks. The plot covers the months before the crime, the ... See full summary »
Votes: 1,395 | Gross: $0.34M
87. Synecdoche, New York (2008)
R | 124 min | Comedy, Drama
A theatre director struggles with his work, and the women in his life, as he creates a life-size replica of New York City inside a warehouse as part of his new play.
Votes: 66,019 | Gross: $3.08M
88. Targets (1968)
R | 90 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller
An elderly horror film star, while making a personal appearance at a drive-in theatre, confronts a psychotic Vietnam War veteran who has turned into a mass-murdering sniper.
89. Tarnation (2003)
Unrated | 88 min | Documentary, Biography
Filmmaker Jonathan Caouette's documentary on growing up with his schizophrenic mother -- a mixture of snapshots, Super-8, answering machine messages, video diaries, early short films, and more -- culled from 19 years of his life.
Votes: 5,943 | Gross: $0.59M
90. The Thin Blue Line (1988)
Not Rated | 101 min | Documentary, Crime, Drama
A film that successfully argued that a man was wrongly convicted for murder by a corrupt justice system in Dallas County, Texas.
Votes: 18,369 | Gross: $1.21M
91. Tongues Untied (1989)
Not Rated | 55 min | Documentary
Marlon Riggs, with assistance from other gay Black men, especially poet Essex Hemphill, celebrates Black men loving Black men as a revolutionary act. The film intercuts footage of Hemphill ... See full summary »
92. Trees Lounge (1996)
R | 95 min | Comedy, Drama
Tommy is an unemployed mechanic who spends most of his time in a bar (Trees Lounge) in a small blue collar town. He seems to always be thinking, "If only X then I could stop drinking".
Votes: 12,123 | Gross: $0.70M
93. Trouble in Mind (1985)
R | 111 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama
The lives of an ex-con, a coffee-shop owner, and a young couple looking to make it rich intersect in the fictional and hypnotic Rain City.
Votes: 1,307 | Gross: $0.02M
95. The Unbelievable Truth (1989)
R | 90 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance
A man returns to his home town after serving a prison sentence for homicide, and finds that the details of the crime have been forgotten and replaced with local legends and rumors.
Votes: 3,998 | Gross: $0.55M
96. Variety (1983)
Not Rated | 100 min | Drama
Christine (Sandy McLeod) takes a job selling tickets at a porno theater near Times Square. Instead of distancing herself from the dark and erotic nature of this milieu, she develops an ... See full summary »
97. Wanda (1970)
GP | 102 min | Crime, Drama
In the coal mining region of Pennsylvania, Wanda Goronski is constantly drinking to shut out the problems in her life. Having deserted her husband and infant children, Wanda sleeps on her ... See full summary »
98. Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995)
R | 88 min | Comedy, Drama
An unattractive seventh grader struggles to cope with inattentive parents, snobbish classmates, a smart older brother, an attractive younger sister, and her own insecurities in suburban New Jersey.
Votes: 28,635 | Gross: $4.77M