Holy Rollers
Kevin Asch 2010
Narrative Feature

Saturday May 15, 2010
$10 Online or at the door
The roof of New Design High School (formerly Open Road)
Lower East Side
350 Grand Street, New York, NY 10002
F, J, M, Z to Delancey Street-Essex Street; B, D, Q to Grand Street

8:00Doors Open
8:30Live Music by DeLeon
9:00Film Begins
10:30Filmmaker Q & A
11:30After Party with FREE Radeberger Pilsner at Fontana's (105 Eldridge St.)
In the event of rain, the screening will be held indoors at the same location.


This Show Presented in Partnership With

New York Magazine
Two Boots Pizza

Special Sneak Preview prior to the film's NY theatrical release at the Landmark Sunshine Theater on May 21. Filmmaker Kevin Asch and stars Danny Abeckaser and Jen Gatien available for a Q and A after the film. PLUS Free Radeberger Pilsner at the after party!

Holy Rollers (Kevin Asch | New York | 89 min.)

Official Link: http://holyrollersfilm.com/

Read an interview with the director on the Rooftop blog!

Set in Williamsburg's Hasidic enclave, first-time director Kevin Asch's Holy Rollers offers a unique coming-of-age portrait while simultaneously pulling back the veil on the city's gritty drug trade. Jesse Eisenberg plays frustrated Brooklyn dweller Sam Gold, a young Orthodox Jew wilting under the pressure of his religious parents to get married and become a Rabbi. Sam's life gets more interesting when his suave neighbor Yosef (Justin Bartha) introduces him to an Israeli ecstasy dealer, which propels the disillusioned Hasid into a secular world filled with enough hedonistic opportunities to let him escape the burdens of home rituals. But is that what he really wants?

From its immersive opening sequence, Holy Rollers pulls us deep into insular world of the Orthodox Jewish lifestyle that has been imposed on Sam since his birth. Essentially a good kid, Sam initially resists the temptation to expand his horizons and enter a dangerous world. However, his business savvy elevates him to a kind of fast-paced industry he never expected to accept him. As Sam falls deeper into the trappings of the drug trade -- traveling the globe, frequenting parties and developing a fondness for like-minded Jewish rebel Rachel (Ari Graynor) -- he begins to question his newfound allegiances, although it might be too late for another exit strategy.

Asch, a New York native, directed the short film Characters and produced Point & Shoot, which played at the Tribeca Film Festival. In recent years, he has developed into a major new filmmaking talent in the Hollywood scene, a reputation boosted by his debut feature. His directorial style blends painstakingly assembled realism with endless forward-momentum, as evidenced by the way that Holy Rollers begins as a family drama before seamlessly delving into heartbreak and suspense. Asch fulfills the expectations of these genres while remaining true to the central conflict of the story, which continually returns to Sam's relationship with his relentlessly judgmental father, Mendel (Mark Ivanir). The older man's valiant attempts to support his family through a rickety clothing shop provide a touching contrast to Sam's struggle to support himself.

Predominantly shot throughout New York City, mainly on the Lower East Side and Brooklyn, Holy Rollers takes its premise from a true story and provides a fascinating glimpse at the inner workings of the city's Hasidic population as it has rarely appeared in contemporary cinema. Eisenberg (Adventureland) has played scores of young rebels over the course of his successful career, but Sam provides him with the unique challenge of portraying a naive character faced with a serious moral dilemma that could affect the rest of his life. Asch's exhaustive researching of the communities portrayed in the film comes to life with a moving narrative that neither condescends to its subjects nor passes judgment on them, but remains resolutely profound.

An official selection at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, the movie opens in New York on May 21.


-Eric Kohn

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Rooftop Films is a New York based non-profit whose mission is to engage diverse communities by showing independent movies in outdoor locations, producing new films, coordinating youth media education, and renting equipment at low cost to artists.

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