Indie Hit List: Then & Now

Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Fox Searchlight/Everett Collection

From larger-than-life moguls to indie ingenues, THR takes a discerning look at the most influential players of Sundance past — and who’s poised to shape the future of independent cinema.


Then: Parker Posey
Posey defined the ’90s indie It girl in oddball work from directors Richard Linklater, Hal Hartley and Noah Baumbach.

Now: Greta Gerwig
A mumblecore fixture, Gerwig carries the torch in Baumbach’s Greenberg and Whit Stillman’s upcoming Damsels in Distress.


Then: Steve Buscemi
A true journeyman, he knocked out 20 years of indelible roles in such classics as Barton Fink, Reservoir Dogs and Ghost World.

Now: joseph gordon-levitt
Indie’s new go-to guy, the 29-year-old has range that shines in everything from Brick and Hesher to The Lookout and (500) Days of Summer.


Then: Bob Yari
His Yari Film Group had a hand in such indie hits as The Illusionist and the Oscar-winning Crash as well as its share of legal battles.

Now: Steven M. Rales
Part of a new wave of equity investors, as billionaire chairman of Danaher Corp. he exec produced Wes Anderson’s past two movies.


Then: John Sloss
Love him or hate him (most execs fall in the latter category), Sloss practically invented the all-night Sundance negotiation in the ’90s.

Now: John Sloss
Still the man after all these years. Sloss is a fixture at Sundance, selling everything from Napoleon Dynamite to Little Miss Sunshine.


Then: John Sayles
The king of DIY filmmaking shrewdly used script-doctoring on studio fare to finance his literary low-budget dramas for 30 years.

Now: Joe Swanberg
After six films in as many years, the prolific 29-year-old Mumble-core veteran finally arrives at Sundance with Uncle Kent.


Then: Errol Morris
He redefined the doc genre with 1988’s The Thin Blue Line, influencing everyone from Michael Moore to Alex Gibney in the process.

Now: Lucy Walker
With two major releases in 2010, Countdown to Zero and the Oscar-shortlisted Waste Land, Walker is the doc star of the moment.


Then: Wim Wenders
The German auteur has followed a fiercely independent path for decades. Case in point: upcoming dance pic Pina — in 3D, no less.

Now: Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu
In the last decade, the Mexican helmer, 47, has earned critical cred and copious awards for such grim, alluring fare as this year’s Biutiful.


Then: Harvey Weinstein
Co-founded Miramax. Turned sex, lies, and videotape into a hit. Made Pulp Fiction into a blockbuster. Sold Miramax. Then started anew.

Now: Ryan Kavanaugh
Relativity’s CEO has set his sights on the indie world, distributing his own titles including Take Me Home Tonight and Limitless.


Then: Lawrence Bender
On team Tarantino since Reservoir Dogs, he has also handled Oscar-winning pics like Good Will Hunting and An Inconvenient Truth.

Now: Anne Carey
The former WMA agent toiled at Good Machine before partnering with Ted Hope on pics including Adventureland and The American.


Then: David Lynch
From Eraserhead to Mulholland Drive, Lynch gleefully mixes the sordid and the sublime with a Zen-like intensity that is all his own.

Now: Miranda July
Only two features under her belt, but her artist pedigree and distinctive voice set her apart from an already eccentric pack.