Cover image for Cinema of outsiders : the rise of American independent film
Cinema of outsiders : the rise of American independent film
Levy, Emanuel, 1947-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : New York University Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xiii, 601 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Foreword -- Introduction -- The new American independent cinema -- Cinema of outsiders -- Fathers and sons -- Regional cinema -- The New York school of Indies -- The resurrection of noir -- Comedy and satire: tackling taboos -- Drama: challenging stereotypes -- Cinema of diversity -- Female/feminist sensibility -- The new African American cinema -- The new gay and lesbian cinema -- Conclusion: independent films now.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN1995.9.E96 L43 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



A Los Angeles Times Bestseller

The most important development in American culture of the last two decades is the emergence of independent cinema as a viable alternative to Hollywood. Indeed, while Hollywood's studios devote much of their time and energy to churning out big-budget, star-studded event movies, a renegade independent cinema that challenges mainstream fare continues to flourish with strong critical support and loyal audiences.

Cinema of Outsiders is the first and only comprehensive chronicle of contemporary independent movies from the late 1970s up to the present. From the hip, audacious early works of maverick David Lynch, Jim Jarmusch, and Spike Lee, to the contemporary Oscar-winning success of indie dynamos, such as the Coen brothers ( Fargo ), Quentin Tarentino ( Pulp Fiction ), and Billy Bob Thornton ( Sling Blade ), Levy describes in a lucid and accessible manner the innovation and diversity of American indies in theme, sensibility, and style.

Documenting the socio-economic, political and artistic forces that led to the rise of American independent film, Cinema of Outsiders depicts the pivotal role of indie guru Robert Redford and his Sundance Film Festival in creating a showcase for indies, the function of film schools in supplying talent, and the continuous tension between indies and Hollywood as two distinct industries with their own structure, finance, talent and audience.

Levy describes the major cycles in the indie film movement: regional cinema, the New York school of film, African-American, Asian American, gay and lesbian, and movies made by women. Based on exhaustive research of over 1,000 movies made between 1977 and 1999, Levy evaluates some 200 quintessential indies, including Choose Me , Stranger Than Paradise , Blood Simple , Blue Velvet , Desperately Seeking Susan , Slacker , Poison , Reservoir Dogs , Gas Food Lodging , Menace II Society , Clerks , In the Company of Men , Chasing Amy , The Apostle , The Opposite of Sex , and Happiness .

Cinema of Outsiders reveals the artistic and political impact of bold and provocative independent movies in displaying the cinema of "outsiders"-the cinema of the "other America."

Author Notes

Emanuel Levy is a two-time president of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, a tenured professor of film and sociology at Arizona State University West, and the author of seven books.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

As most contemporary moviegoers are aware, the indies (independent films) have been booming recently, with many like Pulp Fiction, Metropolitan, and Boogie Nights becoming major critical and box office hits. Levy (film and sociology, Arizona State Univ. West), a film critic for Variety magazine, first tries to define exactly what distinguishes the indie from a major American studio production and then examines the specific circumstances that have favored the indie boom. But the bulk of the book is a look at the directors or creators of these films and their work, both good and bad, and a survey of the various types of indie films being made. As the author hopes, this engaging look at the indies of the last 22 years will appeal to "educated people who go to the movies and are interested in knowing more about them." Highly recommended for public libraries and subject collections.ÄMarianne Cawley, Charleston Cty. Lib., SC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Levy (film and sociology, Arizona State Univ. West) did his homework: he watched more than 1,000 independent films (1977-99) and deals in detail with more than 300 representative works, ranging from Jim Jarmusch's Stranger than Paradise (1984) to Jon Jost's All the Vermeers in New York (1992). As one might expect from a Variety reporter, Levy's approach is partly industrial (he provides a portrait of the economics of the marketplace), but he focuses on filmmakers' thematic and stylistic interests. Tracing the indie back to figures such as Cassavetes and Scorsese, he argues that the indie answers the rise of the Hollywood blockbuster (Jaws, Star Wars). The disappearance of small, studio-made art films--and the advent of multiculturalism--resulted in a new "cinema of outsiders," independently made films that dealt with class (Sayles), race (Lee), and gender, from feminist (Weill, Siedelman, Borden) to "queer" (Van Sant, Haynes, Araki). Levy argues that the success of such filmmakers as Soderbergh and Tarantino gave the indie commercial viability--and led to it becoming more like Hollywood product. Undergraduate, graduate, and general collections. J. Belton; Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick

Table of Contents

Forewordp. ix
Introductionp. 1
1 The New American Independent Cinemap. 13
2 Cinema of Outsidersp. 52
3 Fathers and Sonsp. 102
4 Regional Cinemap. 152
5 The New York School of Indiesp. 184
6 The Resurrection of Noirp. 218
7 Comedy and Satire: Tackling Taboosp. 249
8 Drama: Challenging Stereotypesp. 282
9 Cinema of Diversityp. 315
10 Female/Feminist Sensibilityp. 348
11 The New African American Cinemap. 405
12 The New Gay and Lesbian Cinemap. 442
Conclusion: Independent Film Nowp. 494
Appendix 1 Major Indie Movies by Title (1977-1998)p. 515
Appendix 2 Major Indie Movies by Year (1977-1998)p. 527
Notesp. 539
Select Bibliographyp. 557
Indexp. 573
About the Authorp. 601