As film fans, it is important that we support independent films whenever we can. Sometimes this seems difficult, Hollywood is so monumentally powerful and posses such vast marketing apparatus that getting a smaller film noticed seems almost impossible. Despite this, film fans are more powerful now than they have ever been: through Twitter, Tumblr, forums and blogs, we all have a platform and we can use it to get more films that we like made. When a film fan sees a film they like it is important to make as much noise about it as possible, as through working together in this grass-roots approach we can shine a light on quality films that would otherwise be overlooked.
It is essential that film fans do this because it is through independent films that we can control how we are portrayed in the cinema. Films are immensely powerful; they create lasting cultural impressions and can even result in political change.
Not having control of how your country or subculture is portrayed in film or TV can be very damaging. Most people's impressions of Africa are based on stereotypes that are supported by Hollywood films or TV. If more people watched films made in Africa, such as Timbuktu or Fishing Without Nets, then viewers would understand that there is poverty in Africa, but the continent is much more complex than the stereotypes would have you believe. It is important to support independent film so that your country or subculture can exercise control over how they are portrayed on film and not just hand that power over to Hollywood completely.
Supporting a film is also a way to see representations of yourself on screen – that is, if you are not a middle class white American man. Recently, I saw a film that I want to make noise about so that more people get an opportunity to see it. This film is the British film Superbob, about an ordinary postman from Peckham who becomes a superhero when he is struck by a meteorite.
The film takes place in and around South London, mostly in Peckham, an area that is not usually the subject of films. If your experience of the world is only through Hollywood films, you could be forgiven for not knowing that Peckham existed, and if your only experience was through mainstream TV you would think that it was still inhabited by Del Boy and Rodney. Peckham is a vibrant, interesting part of London and it is time that this was reflected in a film. It was refreshing to see a London that is reflective of ordinary people's lives. This was not a film focused on the well-heeled Kensington or Notting Hill set, nor was it a film about hyper-cool Hoxton hipsters. This was a film about a London which ordinary Londoners can recognise.
Another reason why it is important to champion smaller films is that independent cinema showcases a wider variety of stories than the mainstream Hollywood output. Superbob is another good example of this. There are not many films focusing on British superheroes, we see a lot of super-powered charismatic Americans saving the day with witty one liners, but it was a nice change to see a superhero who was self-conscious and modest in a very British way. Superman makes proud statements on what it means to be human, whereas Superbob is concerned that he is signed up to two home energy suppliers. This humour and this type of character is absent from mainstream Hollywood movies, so we need to support it in independent cinema to see more of it.
Above all, Superbob should be championed because it is a great film. The writing is witty and clever. It has a great cast, including Brett Goldstein and Catherine Tate. The film has a warm story about love and being yourself at its core, which allows Superbob to transition from heartbreakingly sad to trouser-soilingly funny in the same scene. What Superbob lacks in budget, it makes up for in heart and wit.
Superbob is a great film because it is different, fresh and original when compared to a Hollywood output which is becoming increasingly generic. Superbob is also extremely entertaining, regardless of the wider industry context. It is a film that film fans should be shouting about because it deserves to reach a wide audience.
The roar of the Hollywood promotional machine can easily drown out a small British movie. That is why it is important that film fans make noise about the easily-overlooked independent films. Films like Superbob are great pieces of entertainment, but they are also important cultural documents and a record of the way we see ourselves. It would be extremely sad if this record was lost and it would be extremely sad if a great film like Superbob did not get the recognition that it deserves.