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No matter who you are, you likely have a favorite film that you hold close to your heart and can credit with changing your life. Whether it taught you to think differently, shaped your view of the world, or made you feel understood in a way nobody else has before, many movies serve as pivotal cornerstones of our time on this earth. Indie movies in particular land in a special place amongst cinephiles’ armory of favorites. In general, independent films refer to any feature-length or short film made without the funding of a major studio or production company. They may also often be referred to as “alternative cinema,” and include anything from documentaries to experimental films to animations.

We’ve all enjoyed our fair share of escapist movies that are perfect for binging buttery popcorn and shouting at the screen in mindless rage (we’re looking at you, Marvel). So what sets indie films apart from these works of art? Simply put, without the oversight of a larger company, indie film directors are able to have a more hands-on approach in terms of the story they want to tell, as well as the style and tone of the project. Furthermore, they have the freedom to go deeper into challenging topics and complex issues that mainstream movies often can’t afford to our of fear of limiting widespread appeal. Most bigger-budget production companies won’t spend time making a film about a demonic-looking bunny named Frank who travels through time to tell a troubled teenager the world is going to end in 28 days, or mimic the quality of a '90s camcorder that three film students use to make a documentary about getting lost in the woods searching for a small town’s exiled witch. For many of these films, one will have a hard time trying to tie a pretty bow around its meaning or moral—most of them just remind us that this world is a scary, fucked up place.

Being allowed to take risks and address more controversial things, indie films have a knack for profoundly resonating with audiences, lingering in their minds long after the end credits roll. This can be both good and bad, as it forces viewers to truly reflect on the ugliest and most realistic parts of the human condition that are often too much to bear. The depictions of heroin and amphetamine addiction in “Requiem for a Dream” are not for the faint of heart, nor are the lengths that a young couple is willing to go to forget about each other in “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” Other films are less gut-wrenching in their delivery while still being just as potent, such as the depiction of feelings of loneliness and dissatisfaction with life at any age seen in "Lost in Translation." Often, what ties these films together is the ever-present search for happiness and human connection.

With such a large selection of indie films having unparalleled impacts on our lives, it’s not unheard of to want to keep fragments of them on our bodies, so as to remind us that life has much deeper meaning than we could ever fathom, while also not having much meaning at all. Has there ever been a film that made you feel this way, and would you commemorate it with a spot on your skin?

Donnie Darko (2001)

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) 

Lost in Translation (2003)

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

Memento (2000)

Requiem for a Dream (2000)

Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Pulp Fiction (1994)

Get Out (2017)

The Evil Dead (1981)

Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

Black Swan (2010)

The Terminator (1984)

(500) Days of Summer (2009)

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Juno (2007)

Pink Flamingos (1972)

The Room (2003)

Trainspotting (1996)

My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

Napoleon Dynamite (2004)