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by Kate Gellene
November 27th, 2013

Here at Rooftop, we take pride in the fact that most of the films we screen have a long life beyond the Summer Series, and festivals in general. Thanks to the rise of VOD and streaming services, this life has grown even longer in the past few years, as smaller films are becoming increasingly available online.

Netflix, the most popular of streaming services, has become host to many wonderful films featured in the Summer Series over the years. As we all gear up to hunker down for the holiday weekend (and the many cold months to follow), we’ve gathered up a handy list of some of our favorites from the past few years. So if you can resist the gravitational pull of TV reruns, pull up a laptop, get cozy and enjoy:

Crystal Fairy (Sebastian Silva, 2013)  The road to self-discovery is paved with a rude tourist, a crazy hippie, a psychedelic cactus and the beautiful beaches in Chile. - Sarah Feuquay

Frances Ha (Noah Baumbach, 2013) Shot in black-and-white that lends this New York odyssey an enjoyably scrappy feel, Frances Ha foregrounds a characteristically endearing Greta Gerwig performance defined by her combination of energetic wit and awkward self-effacement… - Eric Kohn

The Central Park Five (Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, David Mcmahon, 2012) Throughout New York’s highs and lows, the legendary Central Park has remained, as Mayor Ed Koch says, “Holy.” But on April 19, 1989, a 28-year old white woman was beaten and raped in New York’s hallowed ground. Within days, five teenage boys, four black and one Hispanic, were arrested and indicted. The boys were tried first in the court of public opinion, and eventually found guilty in criminal court. In The Central Park Five, the filmmakers explore how these teenagers became a proxy for everything society fears, and how, in a rush for justice, the truth was ignored. - Sarah Feuquay

The Comedy (Rick Alverson, 2012) On the cusp of inheriting his father’s estate, Swanson (Tim Heidecker, “Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!”) is a man with unlimited options. An aging hipster in Brooklyn, he spends his days in aimless recreation with like-minded friends (“Tim & Eric” co-star Eric Wareheim, LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy and comedian Gregg Turkington a.k.a.”Neil Hamburger”) in games of comic irreverence and mock sincerity. As Swanson grows restless of the safety a sheltered life offers him, he tests the limits of acceptable behavior, pushing the envelope in every way he can. Heidecker’s deadpan delivery cleverly masks a deep desire for connection and sense in the modern world. The Comedy wears its name on its sleeve, but director Rick Alverson’s powerful and provocative character study touches a darkness behind the humor that resonates with viewers long after the story ends – Glass Eye Pix

Fat Kid Rules The World (Matthew Lillard, 2012) Troy is a fat kid. Ignored at school, ridiculed by his younger, more athletic brother, pitied by his ex-marine father, he has decided to end it all by stepping in front of a bus. He is just about to do it when he is knocked out of harm’s way by a force of nature named Marcus… Performed with savage heart by the film’s two leads, Jacob Wysocki (Terri) and Matt O’Leary (Brick), it writhes with the anguish, fury, and ecstatic energy of coming of age in today’s world. The cast is rounded out by a surprisingly tender performance from Billy Campbell (The Killing). The result is funny, heartbreaking, exhilarating, and devastating, just like growing up. – Lela Scott MacNeil

Brooklyn Castle (Katie Dellamagiore, 2012) Brooklyn Castle tells the uplifting story of the unbelievably talented chess team at IS 318 in Williamsburg. With rankings higher than Albert Einstein and mostly from low-income and immigrant homes, this dedicated and naturally talented chess team has won over 26 national chess titles, more than any other junior high school in the US. The film focuses on five extraordinary players, Justus, Rochelle, Patrick, Pobo, and Alexis, as they experience the highs and lows of achieving their dreams. – Alece Oxendine

5 Broken Cameras (Guy Davidi and Emad Burnat, 2011) When his son Gibreel is born, Emad, a Palestinian villager, gets his first camera. In his village of Bil’in, a separation barrier is being built on the villagers’ lands to which the villagers begin to resist. Throughout the years, Emad films the struggle led by two of his friends while simultaneously filming his son growing up. Very soon this struggle affects his life on a more personal level. Daily arrests and night raids scare his family; his friends, brothers.. One camera after another is shot or smashed and with each camera a part of Emad’s story unfolds.

China Heavyweight (Yung Chang, 2012) In rural China, young, poor students are recruited for national boxing academies. Given the chance to become Olympic champions, they must choose to fight for the common good or fight for themselves. The latest film from award winning director Yung Chang (Up the Yangtze) is more than a sports documentary, it is an allegory for modern China. Boxing, once banned as being too western, is now embraced and encouraged, a fitting parallel for changing China itself. – Genevieve DeLaurier

Detropia (Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady, 2012) A cinematic tapestry of a city and its people who refuse to leave the building, even as the flames are rising. Documentarians Ewing and  Grady have proven themselves masters of the vérité approach with the first-rate documentaries Jesus Camp and 12th and Delaware. Their latest topical effort, Detropia delivers a snapshot of Detroit’s dire financial straits and struggling middle class.A cinematic tapestry of a city and its people who refuse to leave the building, even as the flames are rising. - Eric Kohn

Gayby (Jonathan Lisecki, 2012) Young, gay New Yorker Matt (Matthew Wilkas) and old college buddy Jenn (Jenn Harris) decide to have a child together the old-fashioned way — by having sex. This curious endeavor formed the centerpiece of the acclaimed short film; for Lisecki’s feature-length treatment, the arrangement is the starting point for a hilarious exploration of urban archetypes, the neuroses of young people grappling with the pressures of family life, and the impact of sexuality on other facets of daily life. Less satire than a playful encapsulation of real life, Gayby places as much emphasis on the experience of its straight character, Jenn, as it does on Matt. – Eric Kohn

Her Master’s Voice (Nina Conti, 2012) In this gutsy and sidesplitting self-examination, conflicted ventriloquist Nina Conti takes the bereaved puppets of her mentor on a pilgrimage to the resting place for deceased performers’ puppets. You may think of ventriloquism as a stale vaudeville art: wooden dummies and even more wooden jokes. But Her Master’s Voice is not your grandfather’s ventriloquism. Nina Conti’s act is more off-broadway avant-garde than Catskills comedian. – Mark Elijah Rosenberg

Kumare (Vikram Gandhi, 2012) In 2010, Indian-American filmmaker Virkam Gandhi went to Phoenix and invented a spiritual workshop from scratch. That’s the premise of Kumaré, a documentary that Gandhi assembled out of his experience, in which he created a fake spiritual guru, replete with heavy accent, far-out proclamations, and a tiny legion of followers. – Eric Kohn

The Imposter (Bart Layton, 2012) Sustained by its weird-but-true hooks, The Imposter suggests a compelling marriage of The Tillman Story with Man on Wire (and was produced by the same people). Director Bart Layton’s biggest coup involves a dominant interview with an outgoing Spanish man who remains unnamed for most of the movie. His espionage-like method of impersonating the missing boy, Nicholas Barclay, puts the movie firmly inside the anonymous man’s head. Guided by a cosmic score and slickly constructed reenactments, “The Imposter” inhabits the con artist’s perspective as he infiltrates a small Texas town, makes the local news and even manages to work his way back to high school. – Eric Kohn

About Sunny (Think of Me) (Bryan Wizemann, 2012) Wizemann’s award-winning realist drama presents a powerful moral dilemma for contemporary America. As the economy leaves millions of Americans without a safety net, and the gap between the wealthy and the working class continues to grow, Think of Me creates an intimate and compelling modern parable based on the toil of a woman named Angela, played exquisitely by Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under; Sleepwalk with Me). – Mark Elijah Rosenberg

Welcome to Pine Hill (Keith Miller, 2012) A recently reformed drug dealer working as a claims adjuster receives earth-shattering news that compels him to make peace with his past and search for freedom beyond the concrete jungle of New York. – Alece Oxendine

Happy streaming!

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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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