10 Best Indie Family Drama Films

Tuesday, March 1 by Amin El-Gazzar

When you are watching the ten best indie family drama films you often don't even realize that they were produced on a shoestring budget. With the advent of technology that allowed people to make high quality, (relatively) low budget films, independent film making has become an established niche in the movie world. Film festivals are staged around the globe to celebrate these films and award the truly note-worthy ones.

  1. "Smooth Talk" This film, based on an original short story by Joyce Carol Oates, revolves around the experiences of a fifteen-year-old girl as she explores her sexuality. By the end of the movie, it is unclear whether or not she has been seduced/raped by a smooth talking older man, but she appears more mature because of her relationship with him. Smooth Talk took its place as one of the ten best indie family drama films when it won the 1986 Grand Jury Prize for a Drama at the Sundance Film Festival.
  2. "Seven Minutes in Heaven" A group of teenagers do what teenagers do – date, flirt, break-up, and at the end of it all swear to remain best friends forever. In the meantime, their parents remain as dysfunctional figureheads in the background.. This film won Special Recognition For a Dramatic Film at the Sundance Film Festival in 1986.
  3. "Lemon Sky" A teenager, just out on high school in the 1950's moves to San Diego to live with his father and the Dad's new family. This made-for-television movie won a Special Jury Prize for a Dramatic Film at the 1989 Sundance Film Festival..
  4. "House Party" Although this film won the 1990 Sundance Film Festival 1990 Filmmakers Trophy for a dramatic movie, it is a teenager high jinks comedy about the adventures of a young man trying to get to a house party. It was a large financial success for an Indie film grossing twenty-six million dollars and launching several sequences.
  5. "To Sleep With Anger" Danny Glover stars in this tale about a mysterious drifter who visits a middle-class family in South Central L.A. and stirs up trouble, enticing them out of their comfortable lives. It won Special Jury Recognition at the 1990 Sundance Film Festival and joined the list of ten best indie family drama films.
  6. "Daughters of the Dust" Three Generations of Gullah women leave the Sea Islands and come to mainland America. Because the film accurately portrayed the little known culture of former American slaves living just off the coast of the Carolinas, it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
  7. "Straight Out of Brooklyn" Dennis is an black teenager living a with his sister, mother and alcoholic father. Frustrated with his hopeless future, he plans a robbery. The film won Special Jury Recognition at the Sundance Film Festival in 1991 making it one of the ten best indie family drama films.
  8. "Trust" This film explores a strange platonic relationship between a pregnant girl and a moody computer repairman whom her family assumes is her new boyfriend. It won the Waldo Salt Screen Writing Award at the 1991 Sundance Film Festival.
  9. "Just Another Girl on the I.R.T."  A seventeen-year-old black girl dreams of using her brains and ambition to avoid an inner-city, dead-end future. However, she winds up pregnant, single and presumably without hope at the end of the movie. The film won a Special Jury Prize for a First Feature at the 1993 Sundance Film Festival. It deserves its place as one of the top ten indie family drama films.
  10. "Fresh" In the gang-ridden projects of Brooklyn, New York , twelve-year-old Michael, nicknamed Fresh runs drugs for the local gangs.. Inspired by his father, an speed-chess master, the boy comes up with a plan to get himself and his drug-addicted sister away from their hopeless lives. Some films are top family dramas because they are suitable for family viewing, others because they are important films about families. Fresh won a Filmmakers Trophy at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival.
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