Top 20 Favorite Independent Film Directors You Should Know

Indie films and film festivals is where I find my Top 20 Favorite Film Directors You Should Know'. Some of these directors already dominate most 'Best of' lists and others are relatively unknown by film fans, and that's a crazy shame. All of these directors are brilliant, you know their work and should know them as well. I'm sure we'll see a lot more of them.
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Alonso Mayo
Alonso is a Film & Journalism graduate from the University of Lima, Peru, and the Film Directing program at the American Film Institute. His thesis film Wednesday Afternoon won the Student Academy Award (Gold Medal - Narrative, 2005). He's directed the documentaries Viva la causa and Just Like Anyone, and the web series Untitled Murder Project 2.0...
“ Christopher Smith is not a name a lot of people know off hand, but they should. His horror / thrillers "Severance" (2006), "The Triangle"(2009), and "Black Death"(2010) were all bloody brilliant with a real story.

Christopher knocked the horror/ psychological thriller ball out of the park with his take on the Bermuda Triangle in "The Triangle". Christopher is someone that you'll continue to see in 'Best Of' lists. ” - SamTheWriter
Nicolas Winding Refn
Nicolas Winding Refn is a Danish film director, screenwriter and producer. He moved to the United States in 1981 and is known for directing the crime dramas Bleeder (1999) and the Pusher films (1996, 2004, 2005), the fictionalised biographical film Bronson (2008), the dramatic adventure film Valhalla Rising (2009)...
Ishai Setton
Editorial Department, Glee
“ Ishai is one of those writer/directors that can come into a film festival under the radar and then before you realize it you're sucked into his story. Ishai's brilliant film 'The Kitchen' shows his incredible ability to tell stories. Covering several story lines interwoven into the lives of a group of friends. The entire film takes place in 'The Kitchen', literally. To build the stories and character development and never leave the room, is an amazing skill. I'm excited to see what Ishai comes out with next. ” - SamTheWriter
“ I had a chance to meet and hangout with Ken J. Adachi at the screening of his film "Dead Dad" (2012) at the Tallgrass Film Festival in Wichita Kansas. Ken was such a cool, kinda quiet, guy with a big smile.

Ken J's, "Dead Dad" is the One-Liner and Phrase-Coining film of the year. This was an amazing film that brought friends together, with a crazy small budget and a month to shoot, and turned a little into something huge.

Ken J. Adachi is a creative genius and we are going to see a lot more from this amazing director. ” - SamTheWriter
Adam Bhala Lough
Director, Bomb the System
Adam Bhala Lough is an American film director, screenwriter, and documentary filmmaker from Fairfax, Virginia. Specializing in independent films, several of Lough's films have been selected as part of the Sundance Film Festival, and he holds the distinction of being the only filmmaker to have a feature film and a documentary in the film festival...
Ash Christian
Actor, Fat Girls
At age twenty, Ash directed, produced and starred in "Fat Girls" alongside Jonathan Caouette ("Tarnation"), and Robin DeJesus ("Camp"). An official selection of the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival, where "Fat Girls" had its world premiere to major critical acclaim...the film found love in the hearts of independent film lovers across the world...
“ Eron Sheean comes out of know where and then smacks you with something freaking amazing. This writer/ director is just brilliant. Eron was a co-writer of the scifi film "The Devide"(2011) and writer/director of the critically acclaimed feature film "Errors of the Human Body"(2012)which he funded through KickStarter. The creativity that he draws from is refreshing. The ideas that he brought into the story lines of "Errors of the Human Body" are brilliant enough to serve up several films themselves. Watch this guy! ” - SamTheWriter
“ Makinov, or whoever this mysterious writer/director really is, brought the horror of the "Children of the Corn" into the present with his horror/thriller "Come Out And Play".

Although no one really knows too much about this mysterious red-masked director, who literally wears a red hood mask everywhere he goes (even on set), he brings a frightening creativity to his work. Makinov is one that you'll want to keep an eye on for sure. ” - SamTheWriter
“ Carl Bessai is a filmmaker that has possibly too much fun directing. Can you have too much fun? He is known for his scifi / thriller "Repeaters"(2010) which is a great psychological puzzle following the idea that made "Ground Hog Day" so huge: "What if every day..?" Carl, however takes the question to the next level and into a dark genre, keeping you in suspense.

One of his brilliant films that so many horror / thriller/ zombie fans missed was his 2005 feature "Severed". This was not just a splatter-fest, no story, zombie film. It had great actors and an incredible story line.

Carl Bessai is a director that everyone needs to keep a tab on, because it can be very easy to miss great films, and his are films you don't want to miss. ” - SamTheWriter
Jim Hanon
Jim Hanon was raised in a small farming community in eastern Washington. He began his artistic career in illustration, art directing, and advertising in Denver, CO, where he met his wife, Sharon. Before the age of thirty, Jim became Vice President of Leo Burnett, a worldwide ad agency headquartered in Chicago...
Benh Zeitlin
Born in New York City and raised in Sunnyside, Queens and then Westchester County, Benh Zeitlin began his career as a film-maker at the tender age of 6 years when he and a friend made a Batman movie. He continued making films as a child before attending Wesleyan University, where he majored in film...
Ben Lewin
Writer, The Sessions
Ben Lewin's career as a writer and director is spread across three continents and includes award-winning documentaries, feature films, TV movies, mini-series and episodic programs. Born in Poland in 1946, he migrated to Australia with his family in 1949. As a young man, Lewin showed great passion for photography and creative writing...
Wes Anderson
Wesley Wales Anderson was born in Houston, Texas. His mother, Texas Ann (Burroughs), is an archaeologist turned real estate agent, and his father, Melver Leonard Anderson, worked in advertising and PR. He has two brothers, Eric and Mel. Anderson's parents divorced when he was a young child, an event that he described as the most crucial event of his brothers and his growing up...
“ André Øvredal is a Norwegian film director with a deep love for American films and a passion for the culture and myths of Norway. André obtained his bachelor’s degree of Arts from Brooks Institute of Photography and Motion Picture in Santa Barbra Calif., in 1995.

At the age of eight, André realized that there was someone behind the camera directing everything and he became fascinated with filmmaking. He got his first camera when he was fifteen years old and quickly started shooting short films.

Over the last 10 years André has made nearly 200 commercials for clients throughout Norway and it’s during these years doing commercials and short films that André gives credit for teaching him how to shoot different genres and creating within him the art of compelling storytelling.

In 2010 André released his first multi-genre critically acclaimed feature film “Troll Hunter”, which has garnered him several Independent film awards including the ‘Public Choice’ award (Amanda Award, 2011) and the ‘Outstanding Achievement in Filmmaking’ award (Newport Beach Film Festival, 2012). Troll Hunter shows off Andre’s great ability to mix genres and still show off his love for American film and Norway’s culture and myths.

Whether it’s a short film, a funny fish commercial like “Makrell Tre Små Fisk” (Vimeo), or a multi-cultural muti-genre feature film, André Øvredal is a director who understands how to tell a story that captivates his audience. ” - SamTheWriter
Timur Bekmambetov
Director, Wanted
Timur Bekmambetov is a Russian-Kazakh film director known for vampire franchise Night Watch and Day Watch. He was born Timur Nuruakhitovich Bekmambetov on June 25, 1961, in Guryev, Soviet Union (now Atyrau, Kazakhstan). His father, Nuruakhit Bekmambetov, is a manager at Guryev Energy company; his mother...
“ Timur Bekmambetov is an amazing Writer/ Director/ Producer who has come out with a great movie almost every year since 2000 which include American and foreign features; "Night Watch"(2004), "Day Watch"(2006), "Wanted"(2008), and "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" (2012). Timur leaves his own artistic fantasy-style magic, signature on each of his films that almost give him away every time. ” - SamTheWriter
Michael Greenspan
Director, Wrecked
Michael Greenspan was born in Montreal, Quebec. He moved to Los Angeles to pursue his love of filmmaking and recently graduated from the prestigious American Film Institute.
Nicholas Gyeney
Producer, Beta Test
Nicholas was born in Seattle to Hungarian parents on July 15th, 1986. Since childhood, Nicholas avidly immersed himself in the world of motion pictures with the indelible influence of his father, Örs Gyeney, who would sit down with Nicholas to show him new films like Star Wars, The Terminator series...
“ Andrew Dominik is one of those directors that many film fans missed out on in 2012. With so many 'Super-Hero' films hitting the box office, there were several amazing films that totally got looked over. One of those feature films was "Killing Them Softly"(2012) starring Brad Pitt. It's an amazing work from a director that you can't afford to just pass over. ” - SamTheWriter
Thomas Vinterberg
Director, The Hunt
With Last Round (Last Round), his graduation short from The National Film School of Denmark, he got an early taste of critical success. He received the Jury's and Producers' Awards at the International Student Film Fest in Munich and won the 1st Prize at the Tel Aviv Film Fest. Popular success followed with his breakthrough short fiction film...
“ Still fairly new to many American film fans, Thomas Vinterberg is another director who truly knows his craft, is a killer storyteller, and has a why of wrapping you so tight into the story that it leaves you wanting to find all his films and watch them all in one day.

His feature film "The Hunt"(2012) is, again, another film that went right under the radar for many film fans, but thanks to NetFlix and VOD you can still see it. Thomas Vinterberg is one of those directors that everyone hopes is full of ideas for many future films, because his work is a real art. ” - SamTheWriter