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7 independent film directors we’re excited about

Attach any of these names to a project and you’ve got our attention

There are some big-name, award-winning directors that we’ll always have time for. Bong Joon-ho, for example, and Paul Thomas Anderson, and Lynne Ramsay… You probably have your own list of filmmakers whose new film you’d never even consider skipping.

Well, today we’re going to try to add some more names – and some more films to your watchlist. Here are some of the most exciting lesser-known independent filmmakers that we can’t wait to see more from:

Leah Purcell

We recently hosted a preview screening of Leah Purcell’s astounding debut The Drover’s Wife, and loved it so much we had to programme another screening of it. A compelling western, set in the Australian outback and showcasing a viewpoint not often explored, The Drover’s Wife really is something special – and as its writer, director, and star, full credit needs to go to Purcell.

She’s since completed her second feature, Here Out West, and is currently in pre-production on a third, The Architect. Talented and prolific? Sounds like a great combination.

Mia Hansen-Løve

Where do we even start with Mia Hansen-Løve?!

Her most famous film to date is the stunning and profound L’Avenir (or Things To Come), which stars Isabelle Huppert – and has been described as the ideal union of filmmaker and star. Hansen-Løve fans are about to be doubly spoiled, too, because Bergman Island is due to hit cinemas in the next few weeks, while her most recent work, Un Beau Matin, just charmed audiences at the Cannes Film Festival.

Shaka King

Shaka King’s Judas And The Black Messiah starred Daniel Kaluyaa as Black activist Fred Hampton and LaKeith Stanfield as FBI informant William O’Neal, and earned Kaluyaa an Oscar and Stanfield an Oscar nod. You might have seen it with us last year, and if so you definitely won’t have forgotten it: it’s an astounding retelling of a true story, brimming with justified fury and pain.

Currently, King is working with US TV network FX on an undisclosed project, but we’re keeping an ear to the ground anyway, ready for whenever he announces his next film.

Julia Ducournau

Julia Ducournau’s debut, Raw, became instantly notorious when multiple viewers reportedly fainted during festival screenings of the film. You’ve got to hope those people didn’t also try watching her follow-up, Titane, which doubles down on the unflinching body horror and probably would’ve caused even more medical emergencies!

Despite the danger factor, though, Ducournau has proven herself to be a thrillingly original filmmaker, with an eye for the truly shocking. Whatever’s next, we can’t wait to see it.

Olivia Wilde

Currently still better known as an actress, Olivia Wilde has shown some serious talent behind the camera too.

She won the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature for her debut, Booksmart. The teen comedy starred Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever as two over-achieving high schoolers out to pack several years’ worth of delinquency into one night, and felt like a refreshing and feminist response to the crude laddishness of Superbad and its ilk.

Next up? Her psychological thriller Don’t Worry Darling stars Harry Styles and Florence Pugh, and is due out later this year.

Kitty Green

After several documentaries, including Ukraine Is Not A Brothel and Casting JonBenet, director Kitty Green released her first narrative film, The Assistant, in 2019. A chilling and powerful depiction of Hollywood’s culture of harassment and fear, it attracted a lot of attention for being the first film to address the #MeToo movement – as well as for announcing Green’s arrival as one to watch.

Her next film, The Royal Hotel, is currently in pre-production, with Julia Garner and Hugo Weaving attached. One to keep an eye out for!

Michael Sarnoski

Michael Sarnoski’s first film, Pig, had an irresistible premise: Nicolas Cage stars as a truffle hunter who must fight to rescue his prize pig after she’s kidnapped. The words “Nicolas Cage” and “pig” might ring some alarm bells, but Sarnoski’s tight, intimate character study kept Cage under control; melancholic, not manic.

The film got the attention of Paramount Pictures, who snapped up Sarnoski to direct a spin-off to John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place franchise. Details are thin on the ground at the moment, but we can’t wait to see what he does with the franchise.

So which other directors are you keeping tabs on? Whose next film are you desperate to see? Let us know!