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Years active 2002–present
Country United States
Major figures Andrew Bujalski, Lynn Shelton, Aaron Katz, Mark Duplass, Jay Duplass, Joe Swanberg, Ry Russo-Young
Influences DIY culture, Dogme 95, American independent film, digital filmmaking

Mumblecore is a subgenre of independent film[1][2] characterized by low budget production values and amateur actors, heavily focused on naturalistic dialogue. Filmmakers often assigned to this movement include Andrew Bujalski, Lynn Shelton, Mark Duplass, Jay Duplass, Aaron Katz, Joe Swanberg,[1][3][4] and Ry Russo-Young. The term mumblegore has been used for films mixing the mumblecore and horror genres.

Distinguishing characteristics[edit]

Naturalism – both in performance and dialogue – is a key feature of almost all mumblecore films.[2] Many feature non-professional actors;[1][2][5] however, Mark Duplass and Jay Duplass have worked with professional actors on their films Baghead; Jeff, Who Lives at Home; and Cyrus.[6] Some mumblecore films feature a prominent use of improvisation,[2][5] with the cast sharing script credits.[1] However, not all mumblecore films feature significant improvisation. For example, the films of Andrew Bujalski are heavily scripted.[7]

Director Lynn Shelton in 2012

Mumblecore films are generally produced with an extremely low budget and low production values.[5][8] Many of these films are shot digitally;[1][8] however, this is not a defining characteristic as Andrew Bujalski's first three films were shot on film and edited with a traditional Steenbeck editing desk.[9]


Mumblecore is a genre of cinema whose films rely on several key components: "real"-sounding (not polished and precise) dialogue that happens in real places (not studio sets/soundstages), telling stories about the lives of characters who are usually single and in their twenties/thirties, and frequently a departure from the simplistic and repetitively familiar plot structures common to larger-budget movies designed for mass appeal. These films are often made on production budgets that are only a small fraction of "wide release" movies' (e.g., below $10 million), shot in black & white despite the story taking place in present-day, and have very limited soundtracks (or even no music at all), relying on the actors' performances alone to establish mood and heighten viewers' emotional reactions to a film's key moments.

The genre can trace its roots back to the French "new wave" of the 1960s—especially the films of Eric Rohmer—whose films focused on the romantic intrigues of characters, and depicted lengthy conversations.

Though not well known, the 1978 film, Girlfriends marked the introduction of many mumblecore traits into American cinema—elements that would be adopted by later filmmakers. This low budget film focuses on a single woman in her twenties, trying to survive and thrive in the New York City art scene.

Stranger Than Paradise and Before Sunrise also used techniques which were later adopted by later Mumblecore directors.

Andrew Bujalski has been described as the "Godfather of Mumblecore".[5] His 2002 directorial debut, Funny Ha Ha, is generally considered to be the first mumblecore film.[8]

The 2005 South by Southwest Film Festival screened a number of other films that came to be considered part of the mumblecore movement, including Bujalski's second film, Mutual Appreciation; The Puffy Chair, by Mark Duplass & Jay Duplass; and, Kissing on the Mouth, by Joe Swanberg.[2][5][6][10]

The term "mumblecore" was coined by Eric Masunaga, a sound editor who has worked with Bujalski. Masunaga coined the term one night at a bar during the 2005 South by Southwest Film Festival, when asked to describe the similarities between Mutual Appreciation, The Puffy Chair, and Kissing on the Mouth, which all screened at that festival.[5] The term was first used publicly by Bujalski in an interview with indieWIRE.[2][8] Bujalski has downplayed the existence of an organized "movement", however, and stated that he did not intentionally make "mumblecore" films.[11]

The directors of mumblecore films are sometimes referred to collectively as, the "mumblecorps" (as in, 'the Marine Corps'). Film journalists have also referred to the genre collectively with the terms "bedhead cinema", and, "Slackavetes" (a portmanteau derived from the title of Richard Linklater's dialogue-heavy, lo-fi, 1990s film Slacker,[2] and, the name of independent film director John Cassavetes).

In 2007, the IFC Center in New York City exhibited a ten-film series of mumblecore films, titled "The New Talkies: Generation D.I.Y."[2]

The term mumblegore has been used for films mixing mumblecore and horror genre. This dates back to 2008's Baghead. A more recent example is 2011's Entrance. Collaborates of the mumblecore genre have made the horror films V/H/S, The House of the Devil , You're Next, and The Sacrament.[12][13]

New York-based Benten Films, a boutique DVD label run by film critics, has championed such mumblecore titles as Swanberg's LOL, and Katz's first two films: Dance Party USA and Quiet City.

Mumblecore is not a strictly American phenomenon. Since about 2009, there is the Berlin Mumblecore movement, with its own manifesto Sehr gutes Manifest. Berlin Mumblecore is not a reaction to the American hype as it is a reaction to the lack of reform in the German public financial support system for the film industry (Filmfoerderung). Crowdfunding is a new possibility to finance movie productions with small and very small budgets independently from restrictions of the German Filmfoerderung.[14] In 2009, Jette Miller's Austern ohne Schale was screened in Berlin. In 2011, the movies Frontalwatte by Jakob Lass and Papa Gold by Tom Lass were released. The latter won several German film awards. 2012 saw the release of Klappe Cowboy by Timo Jacobs and Ulf Behrens, as well as the award winning Dicke Mädchen by Axel Ranisch.[15]


Mumblecore fims in the 2000s featured many of the same collaborators usually working on more than one job.

Movie Adam Wingard Greta Gerwig Lena Dunham Anna Kendrick Jake Johnson Joe Swanberg Kris Swanberg Kate Lyn Sheil Kentucker Audley Timothy Morton Jimmy Kustes David Maloney Zachery Treitz Ben Zoeller Mark Duplass Carrie Krouse Aaron Katz Martha Stephens A. J. Bowen Ti West David Bruckner
Kissing on the Mouth
actor, writer, director actor, assistant director
actor actor, writer, director
Quiet City
actor actor, writer, director director, writer, editor
Team Picture
actor, editor actor promotional material
Hannah Takes the Stairs
actor director, writer, producer, editor, actor writer, actor actor
The Signal
actor co-director, co-writer
Pop Skull
director, co-writer
The Mean Time
actor director, writer, producer
Nights and Weekends
director, writer, actor, producer director, writer, actor, producer
Ginger Sand
cinematography director, writer, editor, actor actor
You Won’t Miss Me
actor actor actor
The House of the Devil[16]
actor actor actor writer, director
Family Tree
actor actor creator, director, writer creator, writer, actor promotional material
Audrey the Trainwreck
actor actor
A Horrible Way to Die
director actor actor
Holy Land
director, writer, producer, actor, editor editor, actor, cinematography editor, promotional material actor
Passenger Pigeons
actor actor actor director, writer, editor
Open Five
cinematography director, writer, actor
We’re Leaving
actor director, producer
Silver Bullets
director, writer, editor, producer, actor actor actor
director, writer, actor director, writer, actor actor actor
Scattered Junk
distributer director, producer, editor, himself producer, editor himself
You're Next
director, editor actor actor actor actor
Art History
actor, cinematography director, writer, editor, producer, actor, cinematography actor
The Zone
actor, cinematography director, writer, editor, producer, actor, cinematography actor actor actor
Caitlyn Plays Herself
actor, cinematography director, writer, editor, producer, actor, cinematography
What Fun We Were Having
producer, actor actor
All the Light in the Sky
director, writer actor
Pilgrim Song
actor writer, producer, actor special thanks director, writer, producer
Marriage Material
actor, cinematography director, producer, actor actor writer, actor
Open Five 2
actor director, writer, actor
director, editor, producer, actor, sound producer, cinematography director, editor, producer, actor, sound producer actor actor director, editor, producer, writer director, writer
Sun Don’t Shine
actor actor
Safety Not Guaranteed
actor actor
Drinking Buddies
actor actor director, editor, producer, actor actor
24 Exposures
actor director, writer, editor, actor
The Sacrament
actor actor actor actor actor director
Land Ho!
actor director, writer, editor director, writer
As It Is In Heaven
actor, composer composer
Happy Christmas
actor actor director, writer, editor, producer, actor actor
Men Go To Battle
writer, producer, actor actor promotional material actor director, writer, editor
Digging for Fire
actor actor director, writer, editor, producer, actor actor
New Cops
creator, actor, editor, promotional material creator, actor, editor, promotional material creator, actor composer

List of mumblecore films[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Hoberman, J. (August 14, 2007). "It's Mumblecore!". The Village Voice. Retrieved on July 27, 2008.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Lim, Dennis (August 19, 2007). Mumblecore – The New Talkies: Generation DIY. The New York Times. Retrieved on July 27, 2008.
  3. ^ a b Hubert, Andrea (May 19, 2007). "Andrea Hubert on the latest fad to hit the US indie film scene". The Guardian. Retrieved on July 27, 2008.
  4. ^ Harring, Michael (Sep 29, 2009). "Local Sightings Film Festival: An I-5 Road Trip and Other New Movies Debut". The Seattle Weekly. Retrieved on Oct 7, 2009.
  5. ^ a b c d e f A Genre Worth Shouting About, The Independent. Retrieved June 2011.
  6. ^ a b Mumblecore meets the mainstream in Cyrus at Sundance, Guardian. Retrieved June 2011.
  7. ^ Bujalski's Beeswax Makes People Say Mumblecore, indieWire. Retrieved June 2011.
  8. ^ a b c d e Youth Quake: Mumblecore Movies, New Yorker. Retrieved June 2011.
  9. ^ Coldiron, Phil. "Middlegame: An Interview with Andrew Bujalski". Cinema Scope (54). Retrieved June 18, 2015. 
  10. ^ Mumblecore Goes Mainstream, Variety. Retrieved June 2011.
  11. ^ Gilbey, Ryan (2013-11-07). "Mumblecore: 'It was never a unified movement. There was no manifesto'". The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  12. ^ a b c Nicholson, Amy. "Mumblegore". Los Angeles Weekly. Retrieved 2013-11-12. 
  13. ^ Collis, Clark (2013-09-17). "'You're Next': How a group of indie filmmakers produced one of 2013's most terrifying movies". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  14. ^ "Acthung Berlin 2012 wrapup: The talks. Berlin Film Central. Berlin News and Indie Film Making in Berlin. 2012-04-24, retrieved in December 2012". Berlin Film Central. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  15. ^ Denis Demmerle: Eine neue Schule. In: Berliner Filmfestivals. 2012-04-28, retrieved in December 2012
  16. ^ a b Armstrong, Olivia. "Decider Essentials: Top 10 Mumblecore Films to Stream". Retrieved 17 January 2016. 
  17. ^ "11 Mumblegore Movies You Need To See". Retrieved 18 January 2016. 
  18. ^ O'Malley, Sheila. "All the Light in the Sky Movie Review". 
  19. ^ Herrington, Chris (March 6, 2008). "Mumblecore": A new new-wave showcase at the Brooks. Memphis Flyer. Retrieved on August 20, 2008.
  20. ^ Dollar, Steve (July 25, 2008). "Mumblecore Meets Grindhouse in 'Baghead'". The New York Sun. Retrieved on July 27, 2008.
  21. ^ Pais, Matt (July 31, 2008). Search of a Midnight Kiss' review. Metromix. Retrieved on August 20, 2008.
  22. ^ Burr, Ty (May 23, 2008). "It's their scene at Cannes – The Boston Globe". Retrieved on August 21, 2008.
  23. ^ "What I Meant To Say". Filmmaker Magazine. Summer 2008. Retrieved on August 20, 2008.
  24. ^ Kohn, Eric (April 8, 2011). "REVIEW: Greta Gerwig Is a Mumblecore Prop in "Arthur"". Indiewire. Retrieved June 18, 2015. 
  25. ^ "Momma's Man Review -". Retrieved on July 25, 2012.
  26. ^ A Short-Term Affair Leads to Big Questions, New York Times. Retrieved June 2011.
  27. ^ Jones, Michael (January 19, 2009). "Magnolia gets Shelton's 'Humpday'". Variety. Retrieved January 20, 2009. 
  28. ^ "Beeswax Movie Reviews, Pictures – Rotten Tomatoes". 7 August 2009. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  29. ^ Cabin, Chris (May 13, 2010). "Daddy Longlegs". Archived from the original on May 16, 2010. Retrieved June 18, 2015. 
  30. ^ Harvey, Dennis (2009-10-19). "Review: 'Sorry, Thanks'". Variety. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  31. ^ Lucas, Matthew (March 18, 2010). "Review: "The Exploding Girl"". From the Front Row. Retrieved November 16, 2013. 
  32. ^ Sharkey, Betsy (April 9, 2010). "'Breaking Upwards'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 16, 2013. 
  33. ^ Piotrowski, Angeline (July 29, 2010). "Traverse City Film Festival: Tiny Furniture Sweet Talks Traverse City". MyNorth. Retrieved 3 January 2012. 
  34. ^ ".: FESTIVALES de Buenos Aires :.". Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  35. ^ "SXSW 2010 Postscript: On Cold Weather and Original Live Scoring | The House Next Door". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  36. ^ "Too Cool". The New Yorker. 7 February 2011. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  37. ^ Dickson, Evan (2012-05-17). "[Interview] 'Entrance' Directors Dallas Richard Hallam And Patrick Horvath On Budget, Slashers And Shooting Los Angeles". DreadCentral. Retrieved 2013-11-12. 
  38. ^ Jones, Tamika (September 21, 2014). "Indie Spotlight". Daily Dead. Retrieved March 4, 2015. 
  39. ^ Linden, Sheri (November 5, 2011). "The Color Wheel: Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 16, 2013. 
  40. ^ Rabin, Nathan (October 18, 2012). "Nobody Walks". The A.V. Club. Retrieved November 16, 2013. 
  41. ^ Stewart, Henry (2012-09-12). "Sun Don't Shine: Mumblecore With a Gun". L Magazine. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  42. ^ Osenlund, R. Kurt (2012-07-28). "A GLANCE AT NEWFEST 2012". Filmmaker Magazine. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  43. ^ von Busack, Richard (2012-08-01). "Demon Slayer (Film Review of Ivy League Exorcist: The Bobby Jindal Story)". Metro Silicon Valley. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  44. ^ Kelly, Stephen (2013-10-28). "Drinking Buddies". Total Film. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  45. ^ Schmader, David (May 1, 2013). "Festive: Seattle True Independent Film Festival 2013". The Stranger. Retrieved on May 1, 2013.
  46. ^ Reed, Rex (July 30, 2014). "High Holidays: ‘Happy Christmas’ Is a Mumblecore Mess That Tanks in Desperation". The New York Observer. Retrieved June 18, 2015. 
  47. ^ "Sulemani Keeda (2014)". 

External links[edit]