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A24 studios: The indie film powerhouse

Lily Toreja
As modern cinema continues to evolve, production company A24 has consistently proven to be a dominant indie strongarm with their box-office hits.

From “Ex Machina,” to “Moonlight,” “Lady Bird,” “Past Lives” and “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” indie powerhouse production company A24 has carved a place in the hearts of movie lovers everywhere. The feature film “Everything Everywhere All At Once” is among A24’s greatest recent victories— spinning a tale of a fraught Chinese-American mother-daughter relationship balancing family values, Eastern and Western culture, individualism and nihilism through the setting of a Simi Valley laundromat — garnering 11 Academy Award nominations and seven awards to become the most awarded film of all time.

Production companies like Marvel for Disney and DC for DC Comics serve as entertainment limbs for greater media entities and their already established characters and themes, while studios like A24 take a more worldwide approach housing international films. One of A24’s greatest attributes to their filmmaking glory is their versatile approaches to simple slice-of-life narratives.

Take, for example, “Past Lives.” Heralded by the Asian American community at large for uplifting the Asian immigrant experience, the film was successful not for the unrealistic expectations of love and miraculous endings apparent of many romance films, but for how painfully accurate its portrayals of growing up, relationships and loss were for many viewers. 

The film explores the idea of inyeon, a Korean belief that explains every interaction between two people as the result of their relationship in a previous lifetime. Though the idea prompts audiences to deeply ponder their own relationships and their thoughts on destiny or fate, the plot could arguably be boiled down to the simple event of moving away during childhood and the subsequent process of rekindling old friendships. This allowed director Celine Song to create a film centered more on emotional intensity rather than a uniquely challenging plot, leaving many audiences stunned by its relatability rather than overwhelmed by a busy plot.

Or the gritty “Mid90s,” exploring a life of carefree youth skating through the streets of Los Angeles (LA). Opting for professional skaters Sunny Suljic, Olan Prenatt, Ryder McLaughlin, Gio Galicia and Na-Kel Smith, Jonah Hill made his directorial debut by taking it back to his childhood in the skateparks. 

Simply put, a young Stevie (played by Sunny Suljic) leaves his sheltered boredom and finds his crowd among the LA skating scene. With no sophisticated plot, Hill lets the ‘90s lifestyle and hip-hop soundtrack do the storytelling, but nonetheless leaves meaningful dialogue and sequences to touch on class struggles, dysfunctional family dynamics and destructive coping behaviors. 

While these are just a few of A24’s diverse pickings, their fan-favorite statuses greatly illustrate how not every production company only needs the most innovative plots and otherworldly scenarios to be successful — rather, the greatest gems can often be the most emotionally hard-hitting.

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About the Contributor
Lily Toreja
Lily Toreja, Writer
I sew, I love mochas and I would most likely die for you if we have a five-hour phone call.

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