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 French New Wave, DIY culture, Dogme 95, American independent film, digital filmmaking

Mumblecore is a subgenre of independent film[1][2] characterized by naturalistic acting and dialogue (often improvised), low-budget film production, an emphasis on dialogue over plot, and a focus on the personal relationships of people in their 20s and 30s. Filmmakers associated with the genre include Andrew Bujalski, Lynn Shelton, Mark Duplass, Jay Duplass, Aaron Katz, Joe Swanberg,[1][3][4] and Ry Russo-Young; although in many cases these directors reject the term.[5]

The genre is a mostly American phenomenon, although Indian and German mumblecore films have also been produced.

The term mumblegore has been used for films mixing the mumblecore and horror genres.

Distinguishing characteristics

Naturalism – both in performance and dialogue – is a key feature of almost all mumblecore films.[2] Early mumblecore films tended to feature non-professional actors,[1][2][6] although later films have had more professional actors,[7] including major stars such as Anna Kendrick (Drinking Buddies and Happy Christmas) and Orlando Bloom (Digging for Fire). Some mumblecore films feature a prominent use of improvisation,[2][6] with the cast sharing script credits,[1] though some, like Bujalski's films, are mostly scripted.[8]

Director Lynn Shelton in 2012

Mumblecore films are generally produced with a low budget, which has ranged from several thousand to several million dollars; and low production values.[6][9] Filming is done in real places, as opposed to studio sets or soundstages. Many of these films are shot digitally,[1][9] although Bujalski's films have all been shot on film.[10] Soundtracks tend to be limited, or nonexistent.

Mumblecore films tend to revolve around characters in their twenties and early thirties who are usually single, and fairly aimless in both their professional and personal lives.[9][11] Plots are often concerned with difficulties in romantic relationships, exacerbated by the characters' inability to articulate their own desires.[9]

Influences on mumblecore

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.

Other films that have been described as influencing, or at least anticipating, the conventions of mumblecore include Girlfriends (1978), Manhattan (1979), Stranger Than Paradise (1984), Slacker (1991), Clerks (1994), Go Fish (1994) and Before Sunrise (1995).[12][13]

Reality television, including what one critic called "the spring-break psychodrama of MTV's The Real World", has also been called an influence on mumblecore.[14]

Another often-cited influence on mumblecore is the profusion of cheaper filmmaking technology starting in the early 2000s,[14] such as the Panasonic AG-DVX100 video camera,[3] and desktop video editing software such as Final Cut Pro.[15]


Andrew Bujalski has been described as the "Godfather of Mumblecore".[6] His 2002 directorial debut, Funny Ha Ha, is generally considered to be the first mumblecore film.[9]

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][6][7][16] That festival was also the origin of the term "mumblecore": Eric Masunaga, a sound editor who has worked with Bujalski, coined the term one night at a bar during the festival, when asked to describe the similarities between those three films.[6] The term was first used publicly by Bujalski in an interview with indieWIRE.[2][9] Bujalski has downplayed the existence of an organized "movement", however, and stated that he does not intentionally make "mumblecore" films.[5]

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]

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.[17]

Some critics have stated that mumblecore ended around 2010, as the original crop of directors began making films with larger budgets, more diverse storylines, and a more conventional cinematic approach.[18][19] For this reason, films made since 2010 or so that retain an emphasis on naturalistic dialogue and plot are sometimes referred to as "post-mumblecore". Filmmakers who have been labelled as "post-mumblecore" include Kentucker Audley, Amy Seimetz, Sean Price Williams, Alex Karpovsky and Kate Lyn Sheil.[20]

Influences on other genres

The term "mumblegore" has been used for films mixing mumblecore and the horror genre. One of the first such films was 2008's Baghead. A more recent example is 2011's Entrance. Directors associated with mumblecore have made the horror films V/H/S, The House of the Devil, You're Next, and The Sacrament.[21][22]

The big-budget films Magic Mike (2012)[23] and Magic Mike XXL (2015)[24] have been described as having mumblecore elements, due to their use of naturalistic dialogue.

The HBO series Girls (2012), Looking (2014), and Togetherness (2015) have been described as mumblecore-inspired, or, in the words of one critic, "mumbleshows".[11]

Outside the United States

Indian cinemas have been producing independent films of the genre for decades. Directors like Sai Paranjpye have made films like Chashme Buddoor (1981) and Kathā (1982) One of the more recent ones to come out from the Hindi scene is Sulemani Keeda.

In 2000 Alvaro Robles (Chile ) made the film "El Sueño del Caracol" and in 2001 "Huevo Negro", movies that suggest the same principles as the mumblecore develops, even that same year he wrote the essay " post-cinema " (2001) in which he openly describes the essential characteristics of mumblecore , being a precedent of the movement outside the US.

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.[25]

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.[26]


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

Movie Adam Wingard Andrew Bujalski 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 Matthias Grunsky
Funny Ha Ha
Director, writer, editor Cinematographer
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 Cinematographer
Ginger Sand
cinematography director, writer, editor, actor actor
You Won’t Miss Me
actor actor actor
Director, writer, editor Cinematographer
The House of the Devil[27]
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
Tiny Furniture
Director, writer, 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
The Innkeepers
actor Director, writer
All the Light in the Sky
director, writer, editor, producer, cinematography 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 (film)
actor actor director, writer, editor, producer, actor actor
Men Go to Battle
writer, producer, actor actor 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

List of mumblegore films


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External links

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