Submissions for the 2017 Rooftop Films Summer Series are now CLOSED. If you would like to apply for a deadline waiver, email  


"My screening at Rooftop was one of the most memorable nights of my life—seeing my New York movie in a distinctly New York locale, with the most attractive, stylish and enthusiastic audience I can imagine. A light mist falling. Really, pinch me. Rooftop does more than program unusual films in remarkable locations (and vice versa)—it fosters a deep sense of community among New York independent filmmakers, one that is sorely needed. As trite as it sounds, Rooftop has made a lot of indie dreams possible—including my own."
—Lena Dunham, Director of Tiny Furniture and creator and star of HBO's Girls

Please read all of our guidelines and regulations prior to sending in your submission.

Submitting to Rooftop
The experience of submitting to Rooftop was GREAT! Submitting was easy and fair, the entry fee is lower then at any other festival and the Rooftop people are kind and understanding.

--Signe Baumane, Animator

Before you submit, please read all of our guidelines and regulations HERE.

Rooftop Films is committed to helping filmmakers get their films screened and we believe that it is the responsibility of a film festival to make it as easy as possible for filmmakers to submit their films and get them screened. That is why we don't demand that filmmakers send us exorbitant submission fees. We have a low recommended submission fee, that must only be paid once regardless of how many films you send in.

At Rooftop we believe that the role of a festival is to help filmmakers bring their work to bigger audiences, not to profit off of their ambition, so we do everything that we can to make it easier for filmmakers to send in their work. We keep our submission and admission fees low so that filmmakers and audience members can, at least in one small way, contribute equally to the Rooftop community and neither need be saddled by any unfair expense. And a struggling filmmaker need never despair: no film will ever be turned away due to lack of funds. Furthermore, if you submit a work to Rooftop Films you automatically get 2 free tickets to any one Rooftop Summer Series show, whether or not we are able to screen your film.

If you have any questions regarding submissions, please email the programming staff at submit * at * rooftopfilms * dot * com.

The Festival
The audience numbers are mind-boggling. Most of the industry people I've met at other festivals seem to have seen my film at Rooftop, yet I think Rooftop is perhaps the only truly populist screening venue for underground movies in America.
--Benh Zeitlin, Director, Beasts of the Southern Wild

The 2017 Summer Series will run from May through September and will feature more than 150 daring new films, all screened outdoors, in front of big, loyal audiences in parks, on boats, and on rooftops overlooking the greatest city in the world. More than 35,000 people attended Rooftop screenings in 2015, making it one of the most popular festivals in New York City and one of the biggest festivals for underground films in the world. The 2017 Summer Series will surely feature even bigger crowds, even more beautiful venues, and more incredible films.

For the past 20 years, Rooftop Films has been committed to providing a venue, an audience, and a community for the wide array of short and feature length films that are underserved by conventional commercial distributors, industry-run festivals, art galleries, and repertory theater retrospectives. We show comedies, dramas, experimental shorts, animation, videos, short and feature documentaries and political films, and home movies and found footage, as well as many of the most interesting new independent narrative feature films. We want films that tell us about where you live and how you live, and we seek independent movies with original ideas, regardless of production values. We screen the work of experienced professionals, long-time amateurs and first-time filmmakers alike. We also strongly encourage submissions by women and people of color. We show films of all genres, formats, and lengths, as long as they're daring, creative, and unique.

Rooftop Fits into that rare and precious category of film festival that knows how to treat the artist right. From the online catalog description of my (which ranks as one of the most well-written and thoughtful reviews of that work EVER) to their handling of my flight arrangements, to the event itself which made me feel as celebrated as some famous person, Rooftop is stand-out from the point of view of the artist.
--Lynn Shelton, director of Humpday, My Effortless Brilliance and Your Sister's Sister

Curating our Programs
For filmmakers this a wonderful way for their films to be seen in a unique venue, with high quality projection, doing a service for the community, and just hanging with great people. I wish I lived in New York so I could be at all of your screenings. They are truly special.
--Peter Gilbert, At The Death House Door, Hoop Dreams

Having been around for 20 years, Rooftop has carved out a niche for itself in the independent film world. We received over 3,000 submissions in 2016, and every single one of those films was watched and apprised by one of our 3 programmers. But while our primary goal is to screen the best new films we can find, we also believe that our mission entails more than just choosing great films. We believe that a film festival has a responsibility to present films in exciting and innovative ways so that we can reach wide audiences and show interesting work in a manner that maximizes the impact of the films.

This is, of course, why we choose to show films outdoors in New York, among the tall buildings and towering trees, on tar roofs and green grass, and amid the subtle sounds of street traffic and whirring crickets. A film framed by the city skyline becomes more than just a film, it becomes part of the neighborhood, and we try to choose films that will add to the environment in which they will be screened, just as we try to choose venues that will enhance the films that we show. We strive to find the perfect location for each film or program, seeking out idyllic spots along a canal for a romantic program or film, or mounting a screening of a documentary about industry atop the roof of a 100-year-old factory. The result is that the films take on new meanings in these unique environments and nuances come to the fore, making a lasting impression.

We also work harder than most festivals to program films together in such a way that the films complement one another. That is why most of our programs are organized around themes, moods, regions, genres. While some festivals tend to toss unrelated shorts and features into disorganized bundles, Rooftop believes that strategically programming complementary films together can add to the impact of all the works included and that a carefully curated show can bring out subtle resonances in even the most textured and accomplished films. If you have any questions regarding submissions, please email the programming team at

submit * at * rooftopfilms * dot * com.

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About Rooftop Films

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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