Module Details

The information contained in this module specification was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change, either during the session because of unforeseen circumstances, or following review of the module at the end of the session. Queries about the module should be directed to the member of staff with responsibility for the module.
Code COMM725
Coordinator Dr I Tzioumakis
Communication and Media
Year CATS Level Semester CATS Value
Session 2020-21 Level 7 FHEQ First Semester 15


The aim of this module is to examine the ways in which American independent cinema represents a distinct mode of filmmaking from mainstream Hollywood by exploring:   The industrial and economic conditions that have given birth to independent films in the post-1980 period.  The aesthetic choices and representational strategies filmmakers of independent films have made and how those might differ from choices and strategies associated with dominant aesthetic and representational regimes. The relationship of a number of independent films to broader social, cultural, political and ideological landscapes (such as Reaganite politics, racial and gender politics, neoliberalism, etc.). 

Learning Outcomes

(LO1) Students will develop a critical understanding of the debates that surround the concept of “independence” in contemporary American cinema.

(LO2) Students will familiarise themselves with the manner in which independent film was mobilised to respond to particular economic and social-cultural changes in the United States.

(LO3) Students will develop an understanding of the aesthetic choices employed in a number of independent films.

(LO4) Students will develop skills in reading and critically evaluating moving image texts and their discursive contexts.

(S1) Problem solving skills.

(S2) Commercial awareness.

(S3) Organisational skills.

(S4) Communication skills.

(S5) Digital scholarship participating in emerging academic, professional and research practices that depend on digital systems.

(S6) Global perspectives demonstrate international perspectives as professionals/citizens; locate, discuss, analyse, evaluate information from international sources; consider issues from a variety of cultural perspectives, consider ethical and social responsibility issues in international settings; value diversity of language and culture

(S7) Information literacy online, finding, interpreting, evaluating, managing and sharing information

(S8) Media literacy online critically reading and creatively producing academic and professional communications in a range of media

(S9) Research management developing a research strategy, project planning and delivery, risk management, formulating questions, selecting literature, using primary/secondary/diverse sources, collecting & using data, applying research methods, applying ethics

(S10) Self-management readiness to accept responsibility (i.e. leadership), flexibility, resilience, self-starting, initiative, integrity, willingness to take risks, appropriate assertiveness, time management, readiness to improve own performance based on feedback/reflective learning



American independent cinema: problems of definition.

Early declarations of independence (1) Outside Hollywood.

Early declarations of independence (2) Trends within Hollywood.

The beginnings of contemporary independence: against the Conservatism of the New Right.

The independent auteur.

African American independent film.

Mini-majors, major independents, classics divisions and specialty labels.

From independent to “Indie”: the rise of the Sundance Film Festival.  

The Miramax factor.

The “Independent Blockbuster” and the emergence of Indiewood.

American independent cinema in the age of digital reproduction.

Module conclusion: does American independent cinema exist?

Teaching and Learning Strategies

Teaching Method 1 - Lecture
Description: Weekly 1 hour lecture introducing key topics in the module. For 2021 lectures will be done asynchronously online through MS Teams or Zoom.
Attendance Recorded: No

Teaching Method 2 - Screening
Description: Weekly screening of a film that will be related to the topic addressed in the lecture and examined in the seminars. Screenings will also take place on line asynchronously as all the films are available in one of YouTube, Box of Broadcasting, Kanopy
Attendance Recorded: No

Teaching Method 3 - Seminar
Description: Weekly 1 hour seminar to discuss key issues raised in the lecture, the film screened and key reading assigned. This will take place synchronously online via Zoom or Ms Teams.

Attendance Recorded: Yes

Teaching Schedule

  Lectures Seminars Tutorials Lab Practicals Fieldwork Placement Other TOTAL
Study Hours 12



Timetable (if known)              
Private Study 102


EXAM Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
CONTINUOUS Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
Book critical review. There is a resit opportunity. Standard UoL penalty applies for late submission. This is an anonymous assessment. Assessment Schedule (When): Week 7  1000 words    25       
Essay There is a resit opportunity. Standard UoL penalty applies for late submission. This is an anonymous assessment. Assessment Schedule (When): Week 13  3000 words excluding    75       

Recommended Texts

Reading lists are managed at Click here to access the reading lists for this module.