Movies + TV

Is Kickstarter the New Oscar Marketplace? Plus: 5 Films Worth Backing

More and more independent filmmakers are looking to the people—rather than major movie studios—to green light their latest projects.

At this year's Sundance Film Festival, 10 percent of the films were funded, either in part or in full, via Kickstarter. Just last Sunday, Innocente, a documentary short about a 15-year-old homeless girl with dreams of becoming an artist, made history as the first (partially) crowd-funded film to win an Oscar, having tapped 294 backers for over $52,000.

Not every amateur filmmaker is destined for Oscar-night glory, nor does every Academy member click through crowd-funding websites to find new talent. Still, it seems safe to predict that at least some of the next Paul Thomas Andersons, Kathryn Bigelows, and Coen brothers will be using crowd-funding to launch their film careers.

Here, five intriguing new Kickstarter projects you can back now to bring to the silver screen.


The Square, by Jehane Noujaim
During filming of The Square, which follows a group of young Egyptians brought together by the 2011 revolution, director Jehane Noujaim was "disappeared" by the police, bounced from jail cell to jail cell with no access to the outside world. Undaunted, the filmmaker continued to shoot in Egypt for 20 months after her release from prison, and the results offer a sobering firsthand look at Cairo during the bloody, brutal days of upheaval. A rough edit screened at Sundance in January, but the film still requires significant funding for its $100,000 post-production goal.


Continuum, by Planetary Collective
Over the past three years the filmmakers of Planetary Collective have traveled the world interviewing leading cosmologists, environmentalists, and social theorists for a feature-length documentary about the tenuous relationship between mankind and its environment. Sound ambitious? It is. The project's primary goal is nothing less than altering our worldview, and more specifically, to map our journey "from the appearance of modern humans to the planetary crisis we face today." Sure, they may be biting off more than they can cinematically chew, but couldn't we all dream a little bigger?


The Last Days of Coney Island, by Ralph Bakshi
Animator Ralph Bakshi—creator of bizarre, animated cult classics like "American Pop" and "Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures"—is turning to Kickstarter to finance his latest series of animated shorts. Centered around a cast of 60s-era Coney Island kooks, including crooked cops, jaded strippers, and side-show freaks, the series has a seedy, but ultimately charming, undertone. In Bakshi's words, "Help me do something for animation that isn't about making you happy or stupid."


78 RPM, by Joel Schlemowitz
Lovers of creaky-squeaky gramophone tunes should make it a priority to pledge to 78 RPM, which bills itself as a cinematic love letter to vintage music and "connoisseurs of the old-time mileu." With contributions from rag-time radio hosts as well as record collectors, archivists, and burlesque performers, the project promises to be part documentary, part free-form homage to the simple pleasures of an outmoded medium.


Monsterous Murder, by Sarah & Sarah
Our Wallace & Gromit-loving inner child will always have a soft spot for stop-motion animation. So when we read that British animation duo Sarah & Sarah were working on a moody stop-motion murder mystery set against a Victorian backdrop, we were instantly intrigued. According to the project page, the young directors are looking to fund new equipment, editing software, and a special silicone cast to create a more realistic, fleshy appearance for their puppets' skin.

—Blair Pfander

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