Blue Ruin is the latest modest-budget independent film to wow crowds on the festival circuit and find a significant and praised release on both sides of the Atlantic. In cinemas this Friday, the film shows off director Jeremy Saulnier’s considerable talents in turning a revenge story into a lo-fi, gritty, and ultimately realistic study of vengeance a personal grief and guilt. Blue Ruin takes this particular festival darling in a new direction, but is by no means the first film to strike a chord with audiences at prestigious festivals. To mark the film’s release, and wrap another instalment of Sundance London, here’s a look at some of the best indie films to have played Sundance.
Little Miss Sunshine
Premiering at the Sundance Film Festival in 2006, this sweet film propelled the likes of Abigal Breslin and Paul Dano into our Hollywood vocab as they put in amazing turns alongside veterans Steve Carell and Toni Collette. The film opened to high praise in Utah, and went on to win two Oscars, and four Independent Spirit Awards.
Safety Not Guaranteed
Mark Duplass and Aubrey Plaza cemented their positions at king and queen of indie mumblecore with their performances in Colin Trevorrow’s time travel comedy-drama. Based on a real classified ad asking for help with a time travel experiment, the film debuted at Sundance in 2012, also playing SXSW two months later. The film won screenwriting awards from Sundance and the Independent Spirit Awards. The director: Now filming Jurassic Park 4!
Another time travel film – this one will have you scratching your head while exalting its brilliance. Many will love it, few will understand it! Made on a budget of just $7,000(!), the film went on pull in four times that amount on only four screen during its commercial opening weekend. The film dropped at Sundance in 2004, winning two prizes, and played Toronto later the same year. Every fan of science fiction should own a copy.
Capturing The Friedmans
A fascinating documentary that tells the shocking story behind a seemingly normal Jewish family from Long Island, Capturing The Friedmans unwinds its yarn through the medium of home videos, captured by the Friedmans themselves. The film stunned audiences at Sundance in 2003, winning the Grand Jury prize for best documentary, and earning the Oscar nomination in the same category.
It’s the classic Quentin Tarantino film – the one where the auteur’s use of popular music to score and underscore key scenes was really brought to the fore of his filmmaking. A veteran of Sundance, having first shown there in 1992, the film was celebrated at the London branch of the festival this year. The violent cult classic won the FIPRESCI award at the Toronto International Film Festival, the same award given to Blue Ruin at Cannes last year.
Jeremy Saulnier’s darkly comic revenge film pays homage to classic ‘b’ pictures while taking the simple vengeance flick to new dark places examining the inner guilt and grief of the protagonist Dwight. He wants revenge for the murder of his parents, but when it comes to it, what’s making him slash out or pull the trigger? Can and should he follow through? Find out in this gory revenge thriller that won the FIPRESCI award at Cannes 2013, and went on to play and impress at Toronto,Glasgow, Sundance London, the AFI Fest, and Rotterdam, before its nationwide release in the UK this Friday.
Blue Ruin is in cinemas May 2nd.