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10 Indie Movies on Netflix Starring People of Color

Nia Simone McLeod

Netflix hosts a vast selection of diverse independent movies just waiting to be watched. Our list of awesome indie movies on Netflix starring people of color is below. 

Are you a fan of independent movies? 

From Enola Holmes to Project Power, we are all aware of Netflix’s collection of movies with blockbuster budgets and star-studded casts. But what about the underrated, independent movies that often slip through the cracks? Today, we are diving into 10 diverse independent movies from all around the world. 

I’m a big fan of independent movies. Studio films can feel formulaic within their casting or story structure. The following films step outside of the norm and provide a unique experience that you can’t get anywhere else. 

Get your queues ready and check out the list of indie movies below!

Don’t forget to also check out this list of diverse Netflix shows starring women of color.

Awesome independent movies on Netflix starring people of color

1. Residue 

Written and directed by Merawi Gerima, Residue is about a Black filmmaker (Obinna Nwachukwu) who decides to write a screenplay about his childhood home. Once he arrives, he realizes his neighborhood has changed drastically through gentrification.

The dramatic film discusses identity, trauma, and the ever-present issue of gentrification. As you watch, you will feel like a fly-on-the-wall as you ebb and flow through the relationships that once held the main character’s life together. 

Residue was distributed by Array, an independent film collective founded by Ava DuVernay in 2010. The company focuses on providing visibility to independent films from people of color and women. 

2. Goldie

The hip-hop centered drama film Goldie follows an 18-year-old dancer as she follows dreams of stardom in the inner city. Meanwhile, she is racing against the clock to protect her younger siblings from child services.

Goldie stars Slick Woods as the title character Goldie. The social media model is most known for modeling in million-dollar campaigns with brands such as Marc Jacobs and Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty. Goldie marks Woods’ acting debut.

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The stylistic, fast-paced film is vibrant all-around, from its editing to its humor. Its ensemble cast includes Marsha Stephanie Blake, Danny Hoch, and A$AP Ferg. 

3. Raising Victor Vargas

Victor Rasuk (The Baker and the BeautyJack Ryan) stars in the 2002 film Raising Victor Fargas. This coming-of-age/romance mashup is set within the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

Its story follows a teenager (Victor Rasuk) as he deals with family drama and a burgeoning romance in the inner city. While his feelings begin to grow for a sought-after neighborhood girl, Judy, his family structure begins to implode. The film is authentic, raw, and isn’t afraid to tell it exactly like it is. 

4. And Breathe Normally

The Icelandic film And Breathe Normally stars Kristín Þóra Haraldsdóttir and Babetida Sadjo as Lara, a single mother, and Adja, an asylum seeker from Guinea-Bissau. While Lara works her job as a border guard, her path crosses with Adja. The duo forms an unlikely connection as their lives intersect. 

Poverty, sexual orientation, and the refugee crisis are at the heart of And Breathe Normally. These social issues as well as the film’s strong characters drive the film’s plot from beginning to end. The solemn film won the World Cinema Dramatic Directing Award at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. 

If you’re enjoying these quotes, make sure to check out our collection of famous movie quotes from your favorite characters.

5. Atlantics

Set in Dakar, Atlantics takes a love story and gives it a mysterious, supernatural twist. The film follows the lives of a woman named Ada and her lover Souleiman. While dealing with growing feelings for each other, the duo tackles problems surrounding employment, crime…and ghosts.

With Atlantics, director Mati Diop became the first Black woman to direct a film competing at the Cannes Film Festival in 2019. The international film even has the Presidential stamp of approval. In his year-end list, Barack Obama listed Atlantics as one of his favorite movies of 2019. 

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Other unique independent movies on Netflix

6. Dude

Dude is a high-school stoner-comedy film that follows a group of friends during their last few weeks of high school.

The film’s cast includes Lucy Hale, Kathryn Prescott, Alexandra Shipp, and Awkwafina. Fans of films like American Pie and Project X will love seeing the cast of Dude end their high school years with a bang.

Alongside its humor, Dude discusses the deep emotions that come with growing older including loss and identity crises. 

7. Ordinary People

Set on the streets of Manila, Ordinary People follows a duo of pickpocketing teenage parents barely making enough to get by. Once their baby is kidnapped, the duo goes to desperate measures to get their child back. 

As the despair of the couple grows, the couple goes on a chase around the city that gets each audience member’s heart racing. The indie film won many awards at events and festivals throughout the Asia-Pacific region. The most prominent was an Asia Pacific Screen Awards for Best Performance by an Actress, won by leading lady Hasmine Kilip. 

8. The Tiger Hunter

The Tiger Hunter stars Danny Pudi as Sami Malik, a young Indian man, who relocates to America and pursues a new job as an engineer.

Malik hopes to fulfill his dreams of success to impress his childhood crush and fulfill the legacy of his father, a tiger hunter. 

The Tiger Hunter is director Lena Khan’s feature debut. The movie’s stars include Jon Heder, Rizwan Manji, and Karen David. 

9. The Incredible Jessica James

The 2017 movie The Incredible Jessica James stars Jessica Williams (2 Dope Queens, The Daily Show). The romantic comedy follows Jessica as she navigates her newly found single-dom and flourishing career in the big city.

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While on the prowl, she meets an app-designer (Chris O’Dowd) who is dealing with a recent breakup as well. Together, they learn to move forward amidst the recent shakeup in their love lives. 

James is both hilarious and heartfelt as the lead, giving insightful commentary that will have you chatting back and forth with the TV screen like it is a good friend. The story is light, fun — a great way to spend a weekend night at home. 

10. Pihu

Director Vinod Kapri shows what happens when a two-year-old is trapped at home with Pihu. The film stars two-year-old Myra Vishwakarma as the title character, Pihu. After dealing with an unexpected situation at home, Pihu has to learn how to fend for herself and look for a way out. 

Two-year-old Vishwakarma’s adorable, yet thrilling performance will have you at the edge of your seat as you watch her navigate her own home in a brand new light. The Indian thriller Pihu is truly every parent’s worst nightmare come to life. 

What’s your favorite independent movie? 

With Netflix’s algorithm at play, it can seem like they are showing you the same movies repeatedly. But if you take a look at different genres, you will find a diverse selection of movies to feed your movie fix. The above list is a great place to start if you are looking to dive into independent movies for the first time. 

From romantic comedies to thrillers, we’ve got a movie for you no matter what genre you are into. If you are skeptical, don’t be afraid to try something new. You never know what’ll spark your interest. After watching one, you may find yourself made a fan of independent movies for life. 

What movie are you planning to watch on the list? What are you currently watching on Netflix? I would love to know your thoughts below.

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