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20 New and Undistributed Festival Films That Deserve a Home, According to Programmers

Tribeca

What’s a film without distribution? The Popcorn List sets out to make sure that doesn’t happen to the best indies.

Founded by Lela Meadow-Conner and Barbara Twist, the inaugural annual survey spotlights 20 features that debuted at major or regional film festivals this past year and come highly recommended by festival programmers. Nineteen out of the 20 movies have reviews on Letterboxd, despite not yet having theatrical or digital distribution in the U.S. All 20 have won awards — including Audience Awards and Jury Awards — at festivals like Sundance and SXSW.

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Billed as being The Black List for undistributed films, the 2024 Popcorn List highlights independent films that are currently still without domestic U.S. distribution, like the documentary “Chasing Chasing Amy” about the making of Kevin Smith’s comedy.

The other 18 are: “Ajoomma,” “American Pot Story: Oaksterdam,” “Art for Everybody,” “Asog,” “Blood Sweat & Beers,” “Caterpillar,” “Citizen Sleuth,” “City of Wind,” “Crows Are White,” “Dancing the Stumble,” “Egghead & Twinkie,” “ImPossible,” “JessZilla,” “Öte,” “Out There: A National Parks Story,” “Q,” “Todas Las Flores,” “Truth Be Told,” and “UnBroken.”

“As undying champions for the theatrical movie-going experience, we’re not willing to settle for a future where the only movies on the big screen are $200+ million dollar blockbusters written by a committee and geared towards no one,” Meadow-Conner and Twist said in a joint statement. “As filmmakers ourselves, receiving theatrical distribution remains our ultimate dream. We don’t want our movies to die in the graveyard called algorithm. We want them to be celebrated, in person, on a giant screen, with tubs of popcorn and Sour Patch Kids and Buncha Crunch!”

Twist told Ted Hope via his Substack page that ideally The Popcorn List films will receive theatrical distribution, giving a platform to new talent as discovered by festival programmers across the country.

“Festival programmers play a critical role in discovering and elevating filmmakers. Just look at the last five Best Director Oscar winners: Christopher Nolan, Daniels, Jane Campion, Chloé Zhao, and Bong Joon-Ho. All of them were supported by film festivals at the start of the career, and along the way,” Twist said. “There is so much (take that with a grain of salt) support out there for what is thought of as ‘filmmaking’ AKA getting the film made, but there’s little to no support for those who are working to get these films in front of an audience, which is a critical step in making a film. A film is meant for an audience. If it goes unseen, it misses its chance to be part of the cultural conversation, to become part of the history of film.”

See the full list of festival programmers who contributed to selecting the 2024 Popcorn List features below.

Special thanks to the following festival programmers who participated in this inaugural list: Carlos Corral (El Paso Film Festival), Tim Anderson (Florida Film Festival), Brian Hu (San Diego Asian Film Festival), Andrew Peterson (Provincetown Film Festival), Jason Carney (Phoenix Film Festival), Skye McLennan (San Luis Obispo Film Festival), Alan LaFave (Hell’s Half Mile Film & Music Festival), Allegra Madsen (Frameline Film Festival), Linda Eaddy (Denton Black Film Festival), Tishon Pugh (New Orleans Film Festival), Sabrina Aviles (Cinefest Latino Boston), Julia Kipnis (Nashville Film Festival), Mallory Martin (Cleveland Intl. Film Festival), Beth Barrett (Seattle Intl. Film Festival), Zoe Elton (Mill Valley Film Festival), John Nein (Sundance Film Festival), Juliet Romeo (Slamdance Unstoppable), NewFilmmakers Los Angeles Programming Team, Nehad Kedar (BlackStar Film Festival), Malin Kan (AFI Fest), David Nugent (Hamptons Film Festival), Greg Sorvig (Heartland Film Festival), Austin Film Festival Programming Team, Rachel Morgan (Sidewalk Film Festival), Ida Theresa Myklebost (Anchorage Film Festival), Jim Brunzell (Sound Unseen Film Festival), Farrington (Out on Film Festival), Mike Dougherty (Programmer at Large, Los Angeles) Faridah Gbadamosi (Tribeca) Rachel Walker (Programmer at Large), and Nancy Campbell (Independent Film Festival Boston.)

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