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by Lela Scott MacNeil
September 21st, 2011

THIS JUST IN – We are so excited to  announce the recipients of the 2011 Rooftop Filmmakers’ Fund Grants. These grants give us a chance to help contribute to a vibrant and thriving independent film industry. This year’s grants would not have been possible without our generous partners: Edgeworx Studios, Eastern Effects, and the Adrienne Shelly Foundation.

Grants were made to two feature films and five short films. The 2011 grantees are:

ROOFTOP FILMS & EDGEWORX POST-PRODUCTION GRANT:
AIN’T THEM BODIES SAINTS (David Lowery)

ROOFTOP FILMS & EASTERN EFFECTS EQUIPMENT GRANT:
OBVIOUS CHILD (Gillian Robespierre)

ROOFTOP FILMS & ADRIENNE SHELLY FOUNDATION SHORT FILM GRANT FOR WOMEN:
A LIGHT IN THE NIGHT (Sarah Daggar-Nickson)

ROOFTOP FILMMAKERS’ FUND SHORT FILM GRANTS:
MAN ON MARS (Anna Farrell)
TSUNAMI / SAKURA [TIDAL WAVE / CHERRY BLOSSOM] (Lucy Walker)
I’M NOT NOTHING (Zachary Volker)
THE SEEDS (Todd Chandler & Jeff Stark)

Our Founder and Artistic Director Mark Elijah Rosenberg had this to say about this year’s grant cycle, “Rooftop Films is known for consistently showing some of the best new independent films in the world, and doing so in unique ways. We’re proud that we’re also becoming known as a place that can help produce amazing cinema. The support for our filmmakers comes directly from our audience, through ticket sales and partnerships. It’s a testament to the strength and talent of our community that we have such an exceptional crop of grantees this year, films that highlight the breadth of styles and issues that Rooftop addresses each year, from classic narrative fiction to experimental documentary, from social issue comedy to social justice artistry.”

ABOUT THE ROOFTOP FILMMAKERS’ FUND
Rooftop Films not only exhibits films from around the world, we also collaborate with the filmmakers whose work we screen to make new movies through the Rooftop Filmmakers’ Fund and Production Collective. At our annual festival, one dollar of every ticket sold is set aside for the future productions of filmmakers whose work we’ve screened. We also grant production services and mentorship by working with local partners Edgeworx Studios, Eastern Effects, and The Adrienne Shelly Foundation.

So often, filmmakers spend so much of their resources making one film that it’s hard for them to produce another. But unlike festivals which give away awards for filmmakers’ past work, the Rooftop Filmmakers’ Fund is an opportunity to help deserving filmmakers make their next movie. With over 15 years of screening films, every filmmaker who has ever shown a film with Rooftop is eligible for our grants—now over 1,800 artists. Past grantees have included Sean Durkin’s Martha Marcy May Marlene, Ian Cheney’s The City Dark, Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild and Glory at Sea, Johannes Nyholm’s Las Palmas, Moon Molson’s Crazy Beats Strong Every Time, Fabio Wuytack’s Persona Non Grata, Lee Isaac Chung’s Lucky Life, and dozens more. Rooftop Films has four grants available—two for feature-length films and two for short films.

ROOFTOP FILMS & EDGEWORX POST-PRODUCTION GRANT
Edgeworx Studios is a post-production house based in Manhattan. With a fifteen year track record, Edgeworx provides full service production and post-production. Their areas of expertise include motion graphic design, animation, VFX, editorial and finishing.

For this grant, Edgeworx will provide 1-2 weeks of post-production services to one feature-length film. The 2011 recipient is:

DAVID LOWERY – AIN’T THEM BODIES SAINTS
Rooftop screened David’s short films “A Catalogue of Anticipations” and “Pioneer,” and his debut feature, “St. Nick.” “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” is a fiction feature that plays upon the mythology and imagery of the Western to tell an intimate story of hubris and redemption. Set roughly in the late 1970s, the film tells the tale of a renowned outlaw named Bob Muldoon, who escapes from prison after being incarcerated for a string of crimes all across the Southwest. He hightails it to his hometown in the Texas hill country, settles down in an abandoned farmhouse, and plans to call on his wife, Ruth, who years ago was his partner in crime. They now have a daughter, a little girl who was born while he was prison, and Muldoon’s plan is to reunite with the two of them and steal away to the North to start new lives together. He wants to be the man in their life, to provide for them. To be the good father he never had. What he doesn’t count on, however, is that Ruth has moved on.

ROOFTOP FILMS & EASTERN EFFECTS EQUIPMENT GRANT
Eastern Effects is film production rental house based in Brooklyn. Since 1999, Eastern Effects has been providing Lighting & Grip Equipment Rentals for Independent Feature Films, Television Productions, Corporate & Industrial Videos, Student Filmmakers, and Live Broadcast.

For this grant, Eastern Effects will award 30 days of lighting and grip equipment to one feature-length film. The 2011 recipient is:

GILLIAN ROBESPIERRE – OBVIOUS CHILD
In 2010, Rooftop showed Gillian’s short film of the same title, and helped place her feature screenplay in IFP’s Emerging Narrative showcase. The story follows Donna—to be played by former Saturday Night Live cast member Jenny Slate—a young woman living in Brooklyn who has just had her heart broken, and after a spontaneous one-night stand, finds that she’s pregnant. The film comically follows Donna dealing with an unplanned pregnancy and her post (post) graduate struggles. The idea of adulthood paralyzes Donna, and a world without fart jokes is very scary world to her. But as Donna’s mother and best friend share their experience with abortion, we realize that this irreverent comedy is also addressing a serious subject. Because while parts of Donna’s life may seem bleak, she is an uplifting, funny character, and a joy to watch fumble around, make mistakes, and in the end realize she is exactly where she needs to be. Finally, on her way to the clinic, she happens to run into Sam, the one-night stand who put the proverbial bun in her oven. What follows is a great first date in an unlikely location, an abortion, and a happy ending for all.

ROOFTOP FILMS & ADRIENNE SHELLY FOUNDATION SHORT FILM GRANT FOR WOMEN
The Adrienne Shelly Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated in loving memory to the uniquely gifted actor and filmmaker Adrienne Shelly, whose highly accomplished life was tragically cut short November 1, 2006. ASF supports the artistic achievements of female actors, writers and directors through a series of scholarships and grants, providing recipients with financial support and consultative access to the Foundation’s advisory board of actors, directors, producers, composers, law, publicity, academic and trade professionals. Reflecting Adrienne’s spirit, generosity, courage and whimsy, its goal is to recognize the tremendous passion and commitment of women artists in creating their own work, and provide them with support and guidance particularly during periods of transition and struggle.

For this grant, we will award one $3,000 grant to a female director. The 2011 recipient is:

SARA DAGGAR-NICKSON – A LIGHT IN THE NIGHT
Rooftop screened Sarah’s short film Dead Hands in 2011. In her new short, in the woods, in the middle of the night, a girl is running for help. She sees a light and is drawn to an old house. Inside is a young man lost in mourning. She discovers the boy’s mother has committed suicide. He has given up on life because he believes the world to be a dark and perverse place. The girl is in danger, but she has a secret- one that could save the boy or destroy him.

ROOFTOP FILMMAKERS’ FUND SHORT FILM GRANTS

ANNA FARRELL – MAN ON MARS
Rooftop screened Anna’s feature documentary “12 Ways to Sunday” in 2010. “Man on Mars” is a short documentary dreamscape into the mind of A.O., an exceptional yet underprivileged 17-year old from Brooklyn, New York. Utilizing hyper-stylized scripting by the subject himself, the film takes on a dream-like state as it sways seamlessly between fiction and non-fiction. Refusing the fate imposed on him by the external world, A.O. is ready to make the ultimate sacrifice for science and for his country. Without worrying about a way to get back to Earth, A.O. stares directly into the camera, “I am Alfred Omega, and I am going to be the first man on Mars.”

LUCY WALKER – TSUNAMI / SAKURA [“TIDAL WAVE / CHERRY BLOSSOM]
Rooftop Films screened Lucy’s documentary feature “Wasteland” in 2010. Survivors in the areas hardest hit by Japan’s recent tsunami find the courage to revive and rebuild as cherry blossom season begins. A stunning visual poem about the ephemeral nature of life and the healing power of Japan’s most beloved flower. Directed by Academy Award Nominated filmmaker Lucy Walker (Waste Land), featuring photography by Aaron Phillips and music by Moby.

ZACHARY VOLKER – I’M NOT NOTHING
Rooftop showed Zach’s films “Wounded Man” and “Disappearance” in 2011. “I’m Not Nothing” is a modern-day crime film about our desperate recession-era existence. The film centers on Bill Ellis, an unemployed businessman who is overwhelmed with exorbitant student loans, credit card debt, and late mortgage payments (resulting in an impending foreclosure on his house). By happenstance, he finds himself in the company of a passed-out criminal and a case full of money and bizarre photographs. What follows—his decision to steal the bag; a violent scuffle; a succession of sophomoric (and humorous) criminal behaviors; and an ever-deepening hole he finds himself falling into—marks the beginning of a different life for Mr. Ellis.?

TODD CHANDLER AND JEFF STARK – THE SEEDS
Rooftop screened Todd’s feature “Flood Tide,” and the short “Let Them Believe,” the first in a series of films about artists trying to make sense of massive ecological disasters. This new chapter tells a partly fictionalized story of artist and amateur scientist Ian Page and his delivery to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault off the coast of Norway. Unable to gain access to the Vault, Page takes an ice-class expedition sailing vessel even further into the Arctic Circle in search of another place store his precious cargo.

Congratulations to all of the wonderful 2011 Grantees! We can’t wait to see the finished films!

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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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