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by Lela Scott MacNeil
October 20th, 2011

One of the exciting things about working for  Rooftop, is we not only get to show great films from around the world, we also collaborate with the filmmakers whose work we screen to make new movies through the Rooftop Filmmakers’ Fund . At our annual festival, one dollar of every ticket sold is set aside to help the filmmakers whose work we’ve screened make their next movie. We also grant production services and mentorship by working with local partners Edgeworx StudiosEastern 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. The Rooftop Filmmakers’ Fund helps deserving filmmakers do just that. 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. We have four grants available—two for feature-length films and two for short films. You can read more about this year’s excellent grantees here.

Well, when you help a film get made, you feel certain sense of personal pride when that film does well. So you can understand why we are  doing a little dance for all the recent success that has found our grantees. And because funding for our grants comes from our audience (that would be you, dear reader), we invite you to do a little dance right along with us.

Here’s the rundown:

  • Lucy Walker’s short documentary The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom (Filmmakers’ Fund Grantee ‘11) has been named among eight shortlisted contenders for the 84th Academy Awards’ best Documentary Short Subject category, of which three to five films will earn Oscar nominations.
  • After premiering with great acclaim at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival (and winning him a Best Director award), Sean Durkin’s debut fiction feature Martha Marcy May Marlene (Filmmakers’ Fund Grantee ‘10) was sold to Fox Searchlight Pictures for $2 million. The film made its New York Premiere at this year’s New York Film Festival, and will make its theatrical premiere this Friday, October, 21st. Get your tickets here!
  • Melanie Shatzky and Brian M. Cassidy’s documentary feature The Patron Saints (Filmmakers’ Fund Grantee ‘07) made its World Premiere at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival.
  • Susan Youssef’s fiction feature Habibi (Rooftop Filmmakers’ Fund Grantee ‘04) made its World Premiere at the 2011 Venice Biennale, and its North American Premiere at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival.
  • Ian Cheney’s documentary feature The City Dark (Rooftop Filmmakers’ Fund Grantee ‘09) has begun a successful theatrical run, hitting Boston, MA, Minneapolis, MN, Bellingham, WA, and Washington, DC, with more cities to follow.
  • Moon Molson’s fiction short Crazy Beats Strong Every Time (Rooftop Filmmaker’s Fund Grantee ‘09) premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and played the 2011 Rooftop Films Summer Series along with many other festivals across the country.
  • Dustin Guy Defa’s fiction short Family Nightmare (Filmmakers’ Fund Grantee ‘09) played the 2011 BAMCinemaFEST and the 2011 Rooftop Films Summer Series.
  • James M. Johnston’s fiction short Knife (Filmmakers’ Fund Grantee ‘09) played at this year’s Sarasota Film Festival, Rooftop Summer Series, and many other festivals across the country.
  • Heidi Brandenburg and Matt Orzel’s feature documentary When Two Worlds Collide has received support from both Cinereach and the Sundance Institute.

Big congratulations to all of our grantees on all of their recent successes. We know that it’s a big deal just to get a movie made, much less have people watch it and like it. We can’t wait to see how far this year’s batch of Filmmakers’ Fund grantees goes!

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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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