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by Lela Scott MacNeil
June 16th, 2010

Tickets now on sale to see The Pool and other “New York Non-Fiction” this Friday at 8pm.

This Friday, June 18th, Rooftop Films presents “New York Non-Fiction,” our annual selection of scratches, beats, and elegies from New York City.

One of these is “Pool,” a documentary short about the Red Hook Pool directed by Lila Place. The film has all the sentimental beauty of a worn photograph and turns the bright images of the pool and its anonymous city dwellers into the audience’s personal memory of their now lost childhood communities of play.

Lila Place spoke with Rooftop Films about public pools as microcosms of New York City and how sometimes following the rules is an essential part of having fun.

Rooftop Films: Give a brief description of your film for those who haven’t seen it.

Lila Place: It’s about a hot summer day at the public pool in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

RF: Why did you pick a pool as a subject for a film?

LP: I was drawn to the WPA pools because of their long history in New York and also thought it would be beautiful to film inside the pool.

RF: How many days did you shoot at the pool? Did you have any crazy adventures that didn’t make it into the film—wet cameras, rowdy kids, etc.?

LP: We shot for one day at the pool.  I spent over half a year getting permission to shoot at the pool since it’s part of the NYC Parks Department.  Nothing crazy happened at the shoot, except that some kids got so rowdy, the director of the pool that day threatened to shut down the whole pool.  Thank goodness that didn’t happen.   We were really careful with the film camera.  It was enclosed in a heavy metal submarine-like box that could be taken into the water.  The most fun part was filming underwater with all the kids and action.

RF: On the one hand, the pool is a site of pleasurable escape; on the other, it’s a place that has a lot of rules. What do you think the definitive experience of the pool is?

LP: One of the kid’s I interviewed said that the pool had to have lots of rules  otherwise it would get messed up.  I think he’s right.  It’s sort of amazing that so many people from such different backgrounds can share the fun of a pool in NYC.  At times all the rules seem to take away from the pleasure of just enjoying the pool, but with so many people in one place, and many who don’t know how to swim, I think the rules are basically the only way to ensure peoples’ safety and make sure kids don’t get totally out of hand. I think the film shows that ultimately it’s a place to have fun and escape the heat.

RF: Your film is screening as part of Rooftop’s annual “New York Non-Fiction” show. What about your film is uniquely New York?

LP: The public pool feels like a microcosm of the city with all its diversity and explosion of colors and sounds.

RF: Are you a full-time filmmaker? Describe your next project.

LP: I work as a film editor when not working on my own projects.  I’m finishing up a short doc about a Bangladeshi teenager who wants to be a filmmaker at the moment and have a couple projects in development.  Hopefully one of them will make it to Rooftop next year.

RF: We’re pleased to have this your second film that screened at Rooftop (after “Under the Roller Coaster” in 2006). What brings you back?

LP: I love the Rooftop Film Screenings.  What better place to show and watch films about New York?!

See “The Pool” and other “New York Non-Fiction” this Friday at 8pm on the Lower East Side.

Tickets and more information here.

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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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