About Us

Our History & Mission

At Rooftop Films, we believe that film is powerful, not only as a creative medium, but as a vehicle for engaging in valuable dialogue with one another about the issues facing our communities. By bringing films directly to audiences, we foster connections between neighbors, artists, activists, youth and the unique spaces we all share.

Founded in 1997 as an all-volunteer non-profit organization, Rooftop Films has expanded to become the largest outdoor showcase of new independent films in the USA. Throughout two decades of growth, we remain dedicated to the same principles as when we first launched:

  • It’s our mission to bring communities together via the medium of film.
  • We strive to create meaningful, joyous, site-specific events that interact with the environment in which we show the films, and change the way the neighborhood sees the films and music we present, as well as transforming their own understanding of their neighborhood and the public space we inhabit together.
  • We keep our events accessible and affordable, with more than 60% of our events free to the public.
  • We don’t screen in theaters—we screen in communities, and we strive to bring our events to communities that are under-served by traditional cultural organizations, especially economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.
  • We support the filmmakers whose work we show, provide no burdens on the filmmakers who submit their films to use for consideration
  • We make sure to give back to our alumni filmmakers by providing them with grants to help them to produce their next work.

Our Signature Programs

Rooftop Films Summer Series

The largest and longest running outdoor showcase of independent films in the USA, the Rooftop Films Summer Series is a one-of-a-kind, summer-long, outdoor film festival that presents the best new independent and foreign films in scenic locations across New York City.

For 27 years, Rooftop Films has been presenting the Rooftop Films Summer Series, featuring more than 60 outdoor screenings in the summer of 2023, with each presentation being a one-of-a-kind event with live music, free afterparties, and live discussions with filmmakers and stars. The interactive nature of our events makes for a fantastic environment for creative and effective activations. We have partnered with hundreds of innovative partners over the years, and association with Rooftop Films brings tremendous awareness amongst our hundreds of thousands of highly influential, culturally curious, and creatively oriented followers.

Rooftop Filmmakers Fund

Rooftop Films not only exhibits films from around the world, we also support our alumni filmmakers by helping them produce their next film through the Rooftop Filmmakers Fund. Every filmmaker who has ever shown a film with Rooftop Films (now over 2,750) is eligible for our grants. We commit $1 of every ticket sold and every film submission fee to the fund as well as provide service grants from our partner organizations.

The Rooftop Filmmakers Fund is an opportunity to help our community of filmmakers make their next movie. Rooftop Films set aside $1 from every ticket sold and $1 from every submission fee received and grants those funds out to our alumni filmmakers for their future film productions. We’ve been screening films since 1997, and every filmmaker who has ever shown a film with Rooftop is eligible for our grants. Rooftop Films has eleven grants available annually—seven for feature length films and four for short films. Each year, Rooftop Films will give away more than $300,000 in cash and service grants to help filmmakers to produce their next film.

Community Premiere Events

Rooftop Films is dedicated to creating free, immersive and meaningful premiere events that feature culturally resonant, relevant, and locally meaningful films and performances to communities in lower-income and otherwise culturally underserved neighborhoods, and making those events free and open to the public.

Partnering with local community groups, local cultural non-profits, national advocacy organizations, and local government, we work year-round to find the best new films in the world and create world-class presentations in every corner of the city.

With screenings in spacious parks in the Bronx to events on the beaches of Coney Island, with music-themed screenings in historic homes in Latinx enclaves of Corona, Queens, to culturally resonant presentations in the public plazas of Bengali neighborhoods in Kensington Brooklyn, we work collaboratively with filmmakers and local constituents to create unforgettable events that resonate ever more deeply because they are chosen based on the locations in which we will screen them, and presented in ways that augment the meaning of the work and the significance to the local community.

Find out more about our mission and programs by clicking here.