Christopher Nolan's Memento (2000) is the archetypal "puzzle film," a noir thriller about a man with short-term memory loss who seeks revenge for the death of his wife. Truth, memory, and identity are all questioned in a story that refuses to give easy answers or adhere to the fundamental rules of classical filmmaking. The film makes use of audacious stylistic and narrative choices, including a unique editing pattern that produces a dizzying and highly disorienting effect.

This book positions Memento as an important independent film and uses it to explore relationships between independent, arthouse, and commercial mainstream cinema. It also examines independent film marketing practices, especially those associated with Newmarket, the film's producer and distributor. Finally, the book situates Memento within debates on key concepts such as genre, narrative, and reception.


In recent years American independent cinema has not only become the focus of significant scholarly attention but as a category of film it has shifted from a marginal to a central position within American cinema–a shift that can also be detected in the emergence of the label indie cinema as opposed to independent cinema. The popularisation of this indie brand of filmmaking began in the 1990s with the commercial success of the Sundance Film Festival and of specialty distributor Miramax Films, as well as the introduction of DVD, which made independent films more readily available as well as profitable for the first time. At the same time, film studies started developing courses that distinguished American independent cinema from mainstream Hollywood, treating it as a separate object of study and a distinct discursive category.

Despite the surge in interest in independent cinema, a surge that involved the publication of at least twenty books and edited collections alongside a much larger number of articles on various aspects of independent cinema, especially about the post-1980 era, the field–as it has developed–still remains greatly under-researched in relation to the changes of the past twenty years that define the shift from independent to ‘indie’ cinema. This is partly because a multifaceted phenomenon such as American independent cinema, the history of which is as long and complex as the history of mainstream Hollywood, has yet to be adequately and satisfactorily documented. In this respect, academic film criticism is still in great need to account for the plethora of shapes, forms and guises that American independent cinema has manifested itself in. This is certainly not an easy task given that independent film has, indeed, taken a wide variety of forms at different historical trajectories and has been influenced by a hugely diverse range of factors.

It is with this problem in mind that ‘American Indies’ was conceived by its editors. While the history of American independent cinema is still . . .

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