Stefan Arndt

As one of the main architects behind Berlin-based directors collective X Filme Creative Pool, the soft-spoken and notoriously shy producer has been behind some of Germany’s biggest hits, including “Run Lola, Run” and this year’s critically acclaimed “Goodbye, Lenin!” Pic, about a family grappling with the changes brought on by the fall of the Berlin Wall, sheds light on some of the positives of communist life, says Arndt, like “the good conditions for single mothers, the tighter social relations among people. As West Germans, it was a lost opportunity. We could have gained so much more from the reunification.”

Aurelio De Laurentiis

Veteran Italian producer-distrib (and nephew of Dino) is an exceedingly wealthy man, thanks to his ridiculously successful franchise of Italian Christmas comedies. The graduation of his son Luigi from USC film school has prompted him to get back into international production for the first time in 18 years, with the retro sci-fi epic “World of Tomorrow,” starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law and Angelina Jolie. With a reported budget of $70 million, “World” was financed from De Laurentiis’ own pocket without a single presale, but he has since placed the movie with Paramount in the U.S. “I finance my movies myself because I do not want to be a slave or conditioned by the studio system,” he says.

Ted Hope, Anthony Bregman & Anne Carey

Former Good Machinists carry on the tradition of quality indie filmmaking under new shingle This Is That, which has a deal with old GM colleagues at Focus Features. Together, the troika makes all company decisions while separately they hone their individual skills. Hope is known for mining the trenches for new and dependable talent; Bregman for his production expertise and Carey for her story editing and conceptualization. “It’s like a Sundance Lab over there,” says one Gotham distributor. “Industry money came to us for these idiosyncratic and adventuresome films,” says Hope of his company’s recent pics, including Harvey Pekar doc-fiction-animation blend “American Splendor.” “It shows an awareness that audiences also want films that speak to the world we live in now — politically, sociologically or whatever.”

Michael London

Former Fox exec says he’s “found a niche he wants to live in”: developing writer-director-driven pics independently, then going to the studios for backing later. London did just that recently on films by two tyros: Catherine Hardwicke’s “Thirteen” (Searchlight) and Vadim Perelman’s “House of Sand and Fog” (DreamWorks). And he’ll see his long-gestating project with Alexander Payne, “Sideways,” go into production in September. “Studios don’t want to be in the (production) management business anymore,” he says. “I’ve spent a bunch of time inside that machine and I know what they want. I now want to be that buffer.”

Peter Mullan

Firebrand Glaswegian actor-turned-auteur relished provoking the wrath of the Vatican with his remarkable second feature “The Magdalene Sisters,” about Irish girls being abused by nuns. He got the last laugh when the pic won top kudos at Venice, and big auds in the Catholic heartlands of Ireland and Italy. Mullan does his own thing with a passionate vigor that’s spellbinding, though it can also take its toll on those he works with. He has clashed with the U.K. Film Council and split with his producer Frances Higson. What comes next will likely depend on what kind of splash “Magdalene Sisters” makes now that Miramax has released it Stateside.

Mark Ordesky

New Line’s versatile exec veep and chief operations officer of production hasn’t let his “Lord of the Rings” duties distract him from also running specialty label Fine Line, which just inked a landmark theatrical pact with HBO Films. Ordesky says,”It’s the sense of discovery — discovering new artists, new voices and new means of bringing bold films to market” that keeps work in indies exciting. Upcoming Fine Line releases include fest winners “American Splendor” and “Elephant,” while Fine Line-produced “Birth” goes out via New Line.

Ed Pressman & John Schmidt

Known for low-budget, high-integrity projects, the duo has produced eight films in company’s first two years — an ambitious agenda that most who’ve tried it don’t pull off. Their 9/11-themed “The Guys” preemed at Toronto one year after the WTC attack, but didn’t perform at the B.O. “The Cooler,” picked up by Lions Gate at Sundance, looks poised to change their luck. And “Shaft”-spoof “The Hebrew Hammer” is to preem on Comedy Central, followed by theatrical run via Cowboy Releasing. “We’re motivated by a desire to make memorable, original, independent films,” Schmidt says. “We base our decisions on a strong response to a particular script, a gut feeling that the director can really bring it to life, and a sense of an audience for it.”

Rodrigo Prieto

Between the time he shot 2000 release “Amores perros” for director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and their follow-up collaboration, “21 Grams,” Prieto has worked with Julie Taymor (“Frida”), Curtis Hansen (“8 Mile”), Spike Lee (“25th Hour”) and Oliver Stone (docs “Comandante” and “Persona Non Grata”). He’s one of the most in-demand d.p.’s in the business, having graduated from micro-budget indie pics to larger projects, all with the intimacy of the most auteurist cinema. Whether he’s conjuring muted, gritty tones for “Amores” or a saturated, folkloric palette for “Frida,” Prieto places a premium on character and their environments. “It’s crucial for there to be a logic for lighting and framing because audiences can feel it if something isn’t right,” he says. He’s in Morocco scouting Intermedia’s “Alexander,” his third collaboration with Stone.

Christine Vachon, Pam Koffler & Katie Roumel

Killer Films has survived the ups and downs of the indie world, according to Vachon, Koffler and Roumel, by staying true to one core principle: “We make movies we really like,” says Vachon, from Todd Haynes’ “Far from Heaven” to Robert Altman’s upcoming “The Company.” Director-driven, hands-on, and with the persistence and foresight to choose projects ahead of the curve, they also pride themselves on their “no-door policy.” “The office is structured in a way that everyone hears every conversation, so it becomes a committee experience,” says Koffler. “Killer is a united front.”

Michael Winterbottom & Andrew Eaton

A pool table sits in the middle of their office, more like a funky wine bar than a place of work. Yet Winterbottom and Eaton’s Revolution Films is one of the U.K.’s most prolific shingles. While other directors examine their navels, Winterbottom gets on and shoots with whatever money Eaton can scrape together. Having won Berlin’s Golden Bear in February with “In This World,” Winterbottom has already finished his next movie “Code 46” in time for Venice in September. He and Eaton also produced Stephen Fry’s buzz debut “Bright Young Things.” “I’d like to make six films a year, not two,” says Winterbottom. “Our aim is to keep things as small as possible, as simple as possible, so that you have maximum freedom.”