One of the least-publicized success stories on the film fest circuit in the past year was Apart from That, directed by Jennifer Shainin and Randy Walker. This quirky, experimental little indie premiered at South by Southwest last year, before going on to play a total of 24 film fests and winning three awards. And yet, I bet you haven't heard of it, which is one reason that indieWIRE chose Apart from That as one of ten films in its Undiscovered Gems series for 2007. The film is finally available on DVD, too -- check out the official website for details on that.

It's been a whirlwind year for the Apart from That filmmakers, but, Walker, in the midst of taking a well-deserved breather from his many travels with partner Shainin this year on their film's behalf, very kindly sat down and jotted down his and Shainin's thoughts for our readers in this Cinematical Indie Chat.

Cinematical Indie: What indie films out in theaters or DVDs have you been watching lately?

RW: We were fortunate enough to see Charles Burnett's Killer of Sheep recently. What an exquisite film. As far as DVD goes, we finally watched Barbara Loden's Wanda. I don't know why there aren't more films like these out there.

Cinematical Indie: What's the one indie film from the last year you'd recommend to friends?

We found it almost impossible to narrow it down to just one. Here's the list:

Dena Decola and Karin Wandner's Five More Minutes:
http://www.fivemoreminutes-movie.com/

Matija Klukovic's Slow Days:
http://www.focusmedia.hr/adp/

Mike Gibisser's Finally, Lillian and Dan:
http://www.inmanfilms.com/

Tara Wray's Manhattan, Kansas:
http://lbthunderponyproductions.com/

Ulrich Koehler's Windows on Monday:
http://www.451.eu/montag/

Matthew Porterfield's Hamilton:
http://www.hamiltonfilmgroup.org/

Yorgos Lanthimos' Kinetta

Ronnie Bronstein's Frownland:
http://www.frownlandinc.com/index.html

Alexander Voulgaris' Roz:
http://www.2-1-0.gr/?title=tt0976212

Frank V. Ross' Hohokam:
http://molehillindependent.com/

And I'm positive we're forgetting some.

Cinematical Indie: What filmmakers most influenced you in your own work?

Again, a long list:

John Cassavetes
Andrei Tarkovsky
Emir Kusturica
Michelangelo Antonioni
Krzysztof Kieslowski
Caire Denis
Hal Hartley
Mike Leigh
Luis Bunuel
Catherine Breillat
Aki Kaurismaki

Cinematical Indie: What mainstream films have you seen lately that didn't suck?

Are you kidding? Transformers, of course. Seriously. Rent it and go into it thinking you're going to see a
comedy.

Cinematical Indie: What's the most important future trend in indie film?

To be honest, we don't think much about patterns and trends. There does seem to be a slight movement away from the staid, 3-act Hollywood story structure, however. And we're very excited about this. When you come across films that refuse to force one-dimensional characters to service a plot, there is something very exciting in this. Character development becomes very honest and unpredictable, due to the fact that the narrative seems t be governed more by the choices of its characters (rather than those of the author or director). We love watching a film that prevents us from knowing what's going to happen next. These are also films that demand a certain level of patience and thought from the audience that you don't see in commercial films, which seem more concerned with short-hand emotions and fast cuts.

Cinematical Indie: What are you working on now? What's up next for you?

We are each working on two very different, very personal films right now. We don't know which one will come out first, and the process of digging through the layers of both stories hasn't been easy (but we don't think it should be, either). Like they say, "if you ain't bleeding, it ain't worth it."

Cinematical Indie: What's pushing your hot button lately?

Awards ceremonies.