On the Fringe at the MFA

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The late 80s and early 90s brought explosive change to the world of American independent film. New video technology meant that suddenly anyone could be a filmmaker, resulting in innovative micro-budget masterpieces like Kids, Clerks, and El Mariachi. Major movie studios got hip to the indie craze, producing Hollywood movies that borrowed elements from low budget art films (American Beauty) and buying up small films to be marketed to mainstream audiences (Welcome to the Dollhouse). This intermingling of Hollywood and “indiewood” has made it difficult to determine what “independent film” even means. Must an indie film have a tiny budget, or is the presence of artistic imagery and social critique enough to qualify? The 2018 reboot of our popular On the Fringe series presents a wide range of films from the 90s that capture the spirit of independent film, each posing the question: what makes a film “independent?”


On the Fringe: Indie Film in the 90s will be at the Museum of Fine Arts January 5, 2018 – December 7, 2018.