You know those people who say they don't make 'em like they used to? That cinema is all just soulless studio-driven drivel these days? Ignore them. Granted, it's become harder for many releases to grab your attention while gargantuan critic-proof blockbusters incessantly scream at you from television sets and the sides of buses (Pirates of the Caribbean 4's ad spend alone probably dwarfs the entire budget of most independent films). But while well aware of the glut of superhero and robot franchises due to invade this summer, we wanted to point you in the direction of some films we think will be deserving of your time, money and brainpower over the coming months. Some of them are sizeable studio pictures; some are modest independent productions; all are unique, artful labours of love, made by writers and directors who have spilled their hearts and souls onto the screen for your pleasure. These are stories about love, sex, birth, death and alcohol - from the creation of the cosmos to the end of the world. All of human life is here.