So many directors, such woefully inadequate time and space to list them all, but here's a list of 10 cool indie filmmakers you should know about, out there doing interesting things in the indie tradition, from cultish favourites to up and comers - in no particular order.
Fernando Meirelles - director of The Constant Gardener (2005), his first English language film starring Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz, but probably best known for his portrayal of the mean streets of his native Brazil in the Academy Award nominated City of God. His latest film as director, Blindness (see clip below), released in 2008, opened Cannes, and he since has a number of projects in development both for film and television. I love the combination of his poetic vision with the often stark and sometimes brutal realities it depicts.
Daniele Lucchetti an Italian filmmaker in the great tradition, best known to international audiences as director of 2007's My Brother is an Only Child (Mio fratello e figlio unico), a drama that sees two brothers divided by politics, one a Fascist and one a Communist, a classic Italian family drama after the novel by Antonio Pennacchi.
Actor turned filmmaker Tom McCarthy became an indie crowd favourite with The Station Agent, his directorial debut (he also wrote it,) and won several awards for the screenplay. The Visitor, his second feature and one that deals with the controversial subject of illegal immigration, premiered in 2007 at the Toronto International Film Festival. His films so far display classic indie cred in resting on the strength of characters and their intertwining fates as chance throws them together.
Bruce McDonald - a Canadian director of both films and television (notably Degrassi: The Next Generation, Queer as Folk) he first became known to Canadian audiences with 1996's Hard Core Logo, his rough and ready account of life on the road with a fictional punk band, (and third in a rock'n'roll trilogy that included Roadkill and Highway 61) . It led to a series of successes in both film and television, and 2001's forgettable Pointe Claire, a Hollywood production starring Juliette Lewis, Gina Gershon and Mickey Rourke (when he was still pretty, I think). In 2007, he released The Tracey Fragments to international acclaim. The story of a girl looking for her brother stars Ellen Page and uses a kinetic and fascinating split screen technique. His latest is 2009's Pontypool, a low budget zombie thriller.
Sergei Bodrov, a Russian filmmaker and prolific writer, probably best known for lush epics like 2007's Mongol, (the untold story of Genghis Khan's rise to power to a rock soundtrack,) and 1996's war drama Prisoner of the Mountains (about two Russian soldiers captured by Chechnyans), both nominated for Academy Awards. His films are often characterized by a sweeping grandeur, a vision as wide as the Mongolian steppes whether the landscape is urban or pastoral.
Cary Joji Fukunaga - the young American's directorial feature debut, Sin Nombre (Without Name, 2009) garnered a lot of attention on the international festival circuit. It tells the story of two Hondurans trying to escape lives tinged by gang violence by heading to Mexico and then America. His background as cinematographer clearly shows in the sheer beauty of the imagery that brings this fable of a sometimes ugly modern world to life.
Juan Antonio Bayona - a young Spanish director best known for TV commercials and music videos, El Orfanato, his feature debut, caught the attention of audiences at Cannes, the New York and Toronto International Film Festivals in 2007 with its truly haunting visuals and an old fashioned kind of creepy horror story that sneaks up on you. Here's my review - pic from the film above.
Nadine Labaki, a Lebanese actress and an influential video producer in the world of Arab music, she wrote, starred and directed Caramel, her 2007 feature film debut. The film is a romantic comedy centred around a Beirut beauty shop where five women meet to dish about love, sex, tradition and life in general.
Guy Maddin, a Canadian avant garde filmmaker best known for his dreamy, surrealistic style that borrows from the look of the silent film era, (and many of his films are actually silent, performed with live special effects.) Quirky and definitely outside the norm, I will always remember that he made Winnipeg seem interesting!
Jim Jarmusch - quirky American indie director perhaps best known for 2003's Coffee and Cigarettes (a series of vignettes that all have coffee and cigs in common,) and 2005's Broken Flowers (with Bill Murray and Julie Delpy). His latest, 2009's The Limits of Control brings his intimate and off centre vision to bear on the story of a mysterious loner on a criminal mission that's never fully explained.