Celebrate Independence Day with these 8 Under-the-Radar Independent American Films

Four young friends are posing in front of a couch while holding the American Flag

There’s a lot to love about the 4th of July. Neighborhood parades, stuffing our faces with all the barbequed things, oohing and ahhing over exploding pyrotechnics, and then kicking back, relaxing and enjoying some quality TV time ... it is only Wednesday, after all.

This year, instead of opting for the typical patriotic flicks (we’ll save Will Smith punching an alien in the face for another day), we’ll be tuning in to some amazing under-the-radar indie movies.

Why independent movies? Caavo is a company built on the idea of giving you access to content across all services independently, without bias. To us, independence means pushing the envelope, challenging the status quo and thinking differently. These indie films do exactly that. They expand our worldview, challenge our opinions and give us a window into the lives of fellow humans.

We can’t think of a better way to celebrate freedom and independence.

Menashe (2017)

Stream: Prime Video

Rent/Buy: Amazon Video, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube

Why to Watch: Menashe gives us a rare glimpse into the little-seen world of ultra-Orthodox Jews and does so through a poignant story and fascinating characters that are universally relatable. A beautiful film that’s brimming with humanity and emotion.

Did You Know? The film was shot guerrilla style and almost entirely in Yiddish over the course of two years in Brooklyn. Director Joshua Z. Weinstein, who doesn’t speak Yiddish, used a translator on set.

Watch the Trailer: 

Southside With You (2016)

Stream: Netflix

Rent/Buy: Amazon Video, DirecTV, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube

Why to Watch: A charming and delightful love story of two people who would go on to make history (the movie chronicles Barack and Michelle Obama’s first date), this film not only characterizes the former president and first lady beautifully, but also intelligently covers difficult themes of race in America.

Did You Know? Director Richard Tanne says all the film’s main events did indeed happen on the Obama’s first date, except the community meeting (that happened later).

Watch the Trailer:

Tangerine (2015)

Stream: Netflix, Prime Video

Rent/Buy: Amazon Video, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube

Why to Watch: A truly unique experience, the film is technically groundbreaking (it was shot exclusively on iPhone 5s) and tells a humorous and poignant story of two troubled but complex and compelling trans women on the streets of L.A.

Did You Know? The movie was filmed with three iPhone 5s’, a Moondog Labs' anamorphic clip on lens and a $8 app, FiLMiC Pro, plus Steadicam Smoothee Mounts.

Watch the Trailer:

Blue Ruin (2014)

Rent/Buy: Amazon Video, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube

Why to Watch: Far from the typical revenge tale, Blue Ruin will have you on your seat from the very start. It’s simultaneously darkly funny and heartbreaking, and manages to thrill and captivate without giving up character, story or writing quality.

Did You Know? After contributing his (and his wife’s) entire liquid net worth and begging $25K from family members, director Jeremy Saulnier launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the remaining $35K needed to greenlight the film.

Watch the Trailer:

Fruitvale Station (2013)

Rent/Buy: Amazon Video, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube

Why to Watch: Strong acting and exceptional writing make this tragic, quietly powerful, based-on-a-true story film about a man shot by officers at an Oakland BART station stand out.

Did You Know? When the film’s funding fell through, lead actress Octavia Spencer offered to give up her salary to help director Ryan Coogler stay within his budget.

Watch the Trailer:

How to Survive a Plague (2012)

Stream: Hulu, Doc Club, Sundance Now

Rent/Buy: Amazon Video, Google Play, iTunes, YouTube

Why to Watch: This beautiful, enlightening and inspiring documentary tells the story of two activist groups that advocated for FDA approval of HIV drugs in the late 1980s. How to Survive a Plague makes an important statement about the power of standing up and speaking out.

Did You Know? This was filmmaker David France’s first film and was dedicated to his partner Doug Gould who did of AIDS-related pneumonia in 1992.

Watch the Trailer:

TERRI (2011)

Rent/Buy: Amazon Video, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube

Why to Watch: Simple and real, Terri, a movie about an overweight teen struggling to cope with high school, is a good reminder you don’t need fancy special effects or overly complicated plotlines to create a film that leaves a mark.

Did You Know? Director Azazel Jacobs co-wrote the film with author Patrick DeWitt after being inspired by a character in one of DeWitt’s short stories.

Watch the Trailer:

Marwencol (2010)

Stream: Fandor, Doc Club

Rent/Buy: iTunes

Why to Watch: This documentary traces the unique journey of Mark Hogancamp, a man who creates his own unusual therapy to help recover from brain damage caused by being viciously attacked at a bar. This nuanced and quirky film offers an intimate portrait that raises questions about art, creativity and the possibility of second chances.

Did You Know? Marwencol was the inspiration for Welcome to Marwen, a 2018 drama starring Steve Carell and directed by Robert Zemeckis.

Watch the Trailer:

Want unbiased access to all your content?

Let Caavo do the work for you. For a limited time, get 20% off Caavo with promo code INDEPENDENCE at checkout.*


*Independence Day offer valid until 11:59 p.m. July 10, 2018. 20% discount applies only to Caavo 4K UHD. Cannot be combined with other offers. Offer valid only on caavo.com. Not valid on prior purchases.

Recent Posts

Let’s Get This Party Auto-Started

Watch With Friends, our free iOS and Android app, is just the ticket to alleviate your watch party hosting headaches, and our new Auto-Start feature makes hosting easier than ever. All you have to do is pre-select a date and showtime for your watch party, and Watch With Friends will automatically start the show for you.

Take Your Caavo to Go with the Next-Gen Caavo Remote App

Caavo Remote, our next-generation Caavo app, is available now for Caavo customers in the iOS app storeOur refreshed app includes a full Caavo universal remote so you can control any Caavo-connected TV, plus, a new video calling beta feature.