Peter Nellhaus lives in Denver Colorado and writes extensively about movies at Coffee, Coffee and more Coffee. He advises he also contributed a chapter on Thai cinema to the book Southeast Asian Cinema/Le Cinema d'asie du Sud-Est and appears smarter translated into French.
I need to start off by stating that I knew something about these directors when I saw these films. I was a Cinema Studies student at New York University, reading "Take One", "Film Comment", "Movie", and several other English language magazines. No numbers, as I am just listing the films that come to mind. The films listed were all seen theatrically.
Hard Times - Walter Hill (1975)
They Came from Within (Shivers) - David Cronenberg (1975)
Sugarland Express - Steven Spielberg (1974)
THX-1138 - George Lucas (1971) The short version was distributed as part of a package of student films, so I knew about Lucas well before he became a brand name.
Dillinger - John Milius (1973)