“Independent cinema is cinema produced outside of big studios with a small to medium budget” – such is the definition of independent cinema. Contrary to many other definitions, independent cinema is defined not by what it is, but by its opposition to the cinema of big Hollywood machines. This is, in fact, how independent cinema was born.
The birth of a new film label.
It was in the United States, in the 50’s, that independent cinema first appeared, when a handful of directors decided to oppose the dictates of the major Hollywood studios and create a new label for cinema. At first , it was called ‘New York cinema’ to mark its resistance to Hollywood, then ‘underground cinema’ and even ‘avant-garde cinema’. Independent cinema was distinguished by its style, its themes, its small budgets and the names and faces of unknown actors, because at that time, the blockbusters being made in Hollywood were being driven by economic demands.
Sensational Hollywood cinema.
With the advent of television, cinema saw its supremacy decline. With falling attendance in cinema halls, Hollywood needed to make something sensational, a great show. This is when blockbusters appeared. Borrowed from the jargon of the theater world, the term meant a huge hit with big budgets, major technical and human resources, which aimed to make a huge profit and be something exceptional. But despite its predilection for big shows, Hollywood could not deny the existence of independent cinema which was attracting a growing number of viewers as time went on.
An independent label difficult to defend.
Although independent film remained isolated until the 80’s, it then saw the appearance of great talents amongst filmmakers which managed to appeal to more viewers. Finally, independent cinema was getting a special place on the film scene. Faced with the undeniable success of films made with real talent and offering truly original works, major Hollywood studios had no choice but to engage with the so-called independent film production. From that time on the split between independent cinema and Hollywood studios started to diminish or, arguably, even disappear altogether.
In recent years, there has been a constant coming and going of actors and directors between the two worlds, and the border has become very blurred. Now free from the labels of major studios, an independent film is best identified by its distribution network. However, as it is not distributed and advertised by large corporations, independent cinema always needs to be supported by a variety of festivals and associations of independent filmmakers. Because of this cinema will always remain a cradle for new talent. Filmmakers will continue to create movies with alternative and controversial messages, for it is from this huge pool of talent and creativity that cinema as a whole will continue to draw inspiration and develop.