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 Technological Cinevideo Services, Domicile NYCEastern EffectsEdgeworx StudiosThe Adrienne Shelly FoundationDCTV, plus a grant from our sponsor, Piper-Heidsieck Champagne

Rooftop Films’ Founder and Artistic Director, Mark Elijah Rosenberg, said of the grants: “Every year, it is an honor for us at Rooftop to be able to support a new crop of amazing films thanks to the support of our community—our audience, partners and sponsors. We are proud to reflect the diversity of our community by awarding grants to a wide range of films this year, from comedies and wild new media projects to serious films addressing global political issues. Each of these filmmakers previously screened at our festival, so it’s a wonderful opportunity for us to give something back to them and help them make new films which will soon astonish the world.”

So often, filmmakers spend so much of their resources making one film that it's hard for vitthem 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. We've been screening films since 1997, and every filmmaker who has ever shown a film with Rooftop is eligible for our grants—now over 2,500 artists. Past grantees have included David Lowery's Ain't Them Bodies Saints, Sean Durkin’s Martha Marcy May Marlene, Benh Zeitlin's Beasts of the Southern Wild and Glory at Sea, Johannes Nyholm’s Las Palmas, Lucy Walker's The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom, and dozens more.

Rooftop Films has nine grants available—five for feature-length films and four for short films. In 2014, Rooftop Films will give away over $28,000 in cash grants, and over $80,000 in equipment and services. 2014 Grantees will be announced in September. 


The recipients of the 2013 grants offered by the Rooftop Filmmakers' Fund are: 

AT&TAT&T is the presenting sponsor of Rooftop Films 2013 Summer Series, and will award one filmmaker $10,000 cash for their feature film, at a critical stage of production.  For this grant, AT&T will award one filmmaker $10,000 cash for their feature film, at a critical stage of production. “AT&T is committed to New York City’s vibrant arts and culture scene, and we are thrilled to support independent artists through the Rooftop Films Feature Film Grant,” said Marissa Shorenstein, New York State President - AT&T. “New York is a hub for filmmaking, aiding our cultural and economic development, and AT&T is proud to be a part of this important citywide movement. I am excited our support for the filmmaker grant has enabled the making of films like A Chjana [2013 AT&T grantee], Western [2012 AT&T grantee] and Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, and look forward to their introduction to audiences across New York City.”  The 2013 recipient is:

A Chjana

Jonas Carpignano, A Chjana
Determined and courageous Burkinabé friends, Ayiva and Abas, must persevere through the difficult journey across Africa on their way to finding new opportunities in Europe. But with their family and new home, local hostility and intolerance all hanging in the balance, Ayiva and Abas must consider what price a ‘better life’ is really worth. Rooftop screened Carpignano’s award-winning short film, A Chjana in 2012 and Bayou Black in 2011.

DCTV Founded in 1972, DCTV is an established media arts resource for NYC’s independent filmmaking community. DCTV provides affordable workshops, production equipment rentals, post-production facilities, a signature screening series, renowned youth programming, and more – all under the same roof as its award-winning documentary production house. DCTV Post provides independent filmmakers edit, color correction, and mastering suites with the highest quality service at the lowest possible cost. For this grant, DCTV will provide our color correction/mastering suite for one feature film for up to 12 days. The 2013 recipients are:

The Great Heart of HumanitySam Green, The Great Heart of Humanity
The Great Heart of Humanity is a new feature-length ‘live documentary’ by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Sam Green. The film, which is inspired loosely by the Guinness Book of Records, will weave together portraits of record-holding people places and things to create a meditation on fate and the outer contours of the human experience. The film will be screened with live narration and live soundtrack performed by the chamber group yMusic. Rooftop Films screened Sam Green’s film “Pie Fight ’69” (co-directed with Christian Bruno) in 2000 and his live documentaries Fog and The Biggest Smallest in 2013.

Evolution of a Criminal

Darius Clark Monroe, Evolution of a Criminal
Deep in the heart of Texas, what begins as an innocent tale of family, sacrifice, and financial hardship quickly escalates into a true-crime thriller. Fusing together compelling interviews, striking re-enactments, and home video, we are forced to ask ourselves how a 16 year old honor roll student evolved into a bank robber. Rooftop screened Monroe’s short film Train in 2011.

Everything Absolutely

Natalie Paul, Sweet Tea
It's a hot afternoon in gentrified Brooklyn, when Nicki, a tough native Brooklynite meets for the first time her boyfriend's "baby mother" Amy - who turns out to be a Southern blond belle. The two women, as opposite as they are, challenge each other and somehow come to see each other in ways only the other can. Sweet Tea explores the reality of complicated relationships and complicated people - and how they desperately try to hang on, move on, make things work or let things go. Rooftop Films screened Natalie Paul's first short film, Everything Absolutely (co-directed with Terence Nance) in 2013.

Eastern EffectsSince 1999, Brooklyn-based Eastern Effects has been providing Lighting & Grip Equipment rentals for Independent Feature Films, Television Productions, Corporate & Industrial Videos, Student Filmmakers, and Live Broadcast. In 2012, they opened Eastern Effects Studios and now offer NYS Level 2 Qualified sound stages, production offices, and support services to the film community. For this grant, Eastern Effects will award 30 days of lighting and grip equipment to one feature-length film. Past recipients included Benh Zeitlin's Beasts of the Southern Wild, Andrew Semans' Nancy, Please, and Lee Isaac Chung's Lucky Life. The 2013 recipient is:

Sweet Cheeks

Todd Rohal, Sweet Cheeks
Sweet Cheeks is the story of two nine-year-old brothers, Tyson and Tyler Butterfield, growing up among the twenty-four adopted children that live together in a one-room house where they eat, sleep, and get raised up by their loving parents. The boys find a gift for their mother inside of an abandoned mailbox which leads them on a mission where they run afoul of a slick reverend with strange ideas about love, steal a car from a daredevil hobo, get chased by a 6-inch tall man in a balloon, and confront Jesus Christ in heaven above. Sweet Cheeks exists in the uncharted territory located somewhere between the Our Gang shorts of the 1930s, Paper MoonNight of the Hunter, Duck Soup and Forbidden Zone. Rooftop screened Rohal’s short films Knuckleface Jones and Hillbilly Robot in 2000 and 2001 and his feature-length films The Guatemalan Handshake in 2006 and The Catechism Cataclysm in 2012.

Edgeworks Edgeworx Studios is a post-production house based in Manhattan. With a sixteen-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. Past recipents included Ian Cheney’s The City Dark, Sean Durkin’s Martha Marcy May Marlene, and David Lowery's Ain't Them Bodies Saints. The 2013 recipient is:

Men Go to BattleZachary Treitz & Kate Lyn Sheil,
Men Go To Battle
In the fall of 1861, most Americans predicted that the War Between the States would end by Christmas. Henry and Francis Mellon couldn't care less. The two are struggling to hold on to their crumbling estate while bracing for another winter in central Kentucky. Living together in the last remaining structure on their family’s hemp farm, the two have become suffocatingly close. Francis’ practical jokes become more and more antagonistic until the night he accidentally injures Henry in a fight. Henry disappears in the night, leaving Francis alone to discover the hardship and deprivation that the war has in store for him. Rooftop has screened numerous films starring Kate Lyn Sheil, and showed Treitz’s short films The Mean Time (2008) and We’re Leaving (2011).

Rooftop Films
Rooftop Films strives to support as many filmmakers as possible. This year, one film had a particular need for generators for nighttime shooting. Through the Rooftop Equipment Rental program, we are pleased to be able to help one additional film through a special grant. The 2013 recipient is:

Five Star
Keith Miller, Five Star
Five Star follows Primo and John as they face the challenges of urban manhood. For Primo, who turned Blood at age 12 (in the movie and in real life), this includes understanding what it means to be a father and an honest man. John has to decide if gang life is the path for him. Connecting them is John’s father, who was Primo’s mentor, and whose recent death by a supposedly stray bullet sets the story in motion. Based closely on real life elements, the distinction between the story in the movie and events in the ‘real world’ is intentionally blurred. Five Star is a follow up to Keith Miller’s award winning feature Welcome to Pine Hill (Rooftop 2012), which was based off his short film Prince/William (Rooftop 2010).

The Adrienne Shelly Foundation

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. For this grant, we will award one $3,000 grant to a female director. The 2013 recipient is:

Untitled Texas Project
Heather Courtney, Untitled Texas Project
“Untitled Texas Project” will follow one reproductive services clinic’s struggle to survive in a state that has made massive cuts in family planning funding.  In their efforts to get rid of abortion, Texas state legislators have also restricted access to contraception, women wellness exams, and pre-cancer screenings, resulting in 76 clinics either closing completely or cutting family planning services.  This short documentary explores the human side of policy decisions, as we follow a year-in-the life of one west Texas clinic and the fall-out for their patients. Rooftop screened Courtney’s feature documentaries Letters from the Other Side (2006) and Where Soldiers Come From (2011) [pictured].

We at Rooftop Films believe that short films do not receive the attention they deserve in the world of film, and that all too often even a festival which prominently includes short films does little for the filmmaker in the long run. For the short film grants, Rooftop Films earmarks one dollar from every regularly-priced ticket sold and every submission fee received for the Filmmakers' Fund, dispersing grants up to $3,000. The 2013 recipients are:

The World's Longest Yard Sale

Riley Hooper,
The World’s Longest Yard Sale
Now in its 26th year, the world's longest yard sale runs from Michigan to Alabama the first weekend of every August. It's a massive exchange of not only goods, but also cultures, customs, ideas, and narratives. Riley Hooper's short documentary focuses on objects being sold and bought along the route of the sale to reveal personal stories about the people buying and selling them — universal stories of family histories, love, loss, nostalgia, and the human experience. Rooftop screened Hooper’s film Flo in 2013.


Yung Jake, kickstarder
“ayo this Yung Jake. i'm about to drop the most interactive rap video ever. 4 reel. it's gonna be a video that automatically inserts my supporters; the people who have my back from day one (through day 30) of the time that KS is release will be forever embedded into the video, they jus have to pay a little. my day 1-30 niggas. yeah, so whatever img you want can be dragged onto the video wherever/whenever and publicly displayed for the world to see. like on my shirt or you can be in the background of the shot in my hood. prices range on how dope the area of insertion is. Rooftop Films screened my Datamosh video in 20013 that's how they found me. email to inquire about pre-ordering img spots.”

Giuseppe Makes a Movie

Mike Plante, Giuseppe Makes a Movie
In Ventura, CA, Giuseppe Andrews makes movies in his trailer park. A former child actor, Giuseppe is inspired by the crazy independent filmmakers of history: Cassavetes, Bunuel and Fassbinder… and now has 30 features of his own. With a handwritten script, a video camera, an acting ensemble of neighbors and homeless men and a few hundred bucks, we follow Giuseppe and crew as he sets out to make a feature film in just two days and shows that filmmaking is not for a small elite group but for everyone. Made by Adam Rifkin and by Mike Plante, whose Orbit(film): Earth short played at Rooftop in 2012.


Tom Schroeder & Lisa Paclet, Island
Isola del Giglio is the smallest island of the archipelago that includes Elba and Monte Cristo.  One of the three small villages on the island, Campese, serves as a summer vacation retreat for middle class Italian families.  Island will be a 12 minute animated film documenting the course of one day in Campese rendered in an impressionistic, sketchbook style. Rooftop screened Paclet’s film Ursonate (2006) and three of Schroeder’s films: Bike Ride (2002), Bike Race (2011) and Marcel, King of Tervuren (2013).


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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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