About us

Rooftop Films Mission

Rooftop Films is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to engage and inspire diverse communities by showcasing the work of emerging filmmakers in outdoor locations, helping filmmakers to produce new films, and renting equipment & supporting film screenings citywide at low-cost to artists, nonprofits and community groups.

Rooftop Films was born in 1997 when filmmaker Mark Elijah Rosenberg—who had just returned to his native New York City after graduating from Vassar—got out his 16MM projector, a big white sheet, and invited everyone he could find to the roof above his tiny East Village apartment to watch new short films. Since then, Rooftop has become one of the premier venues in the country for the latest independent short and feature films. We highlight innovative work from first time filmmakers, outsider artists, seasoned film professionals, and underrepresented directors.

Rooftop Films is more than a film festival. We are a community. We are a collective collaboration between filmmakers and festivals, between audience members and artists, between venues and neighborhoods. We at Rooftop believe that film is not only powerful as a creative medium, but that it can also serve as a vehicle for engaging audiences in a valuable dialogue about the issues facing their communities. By bringing films directly to audiences, we support important dialogue and foster connections between neighbors, artists, activists, youth and the unique urban space we all share.

Our Programs

Rooftop Films Summer Series

Our core program, the only outdoor festival of its kind, screening site-specific programs of new independent films throughout NYC from May to August. Our screenings are more than just film screenings—they are cinema events featuring live music, immersive performances, filmmaker Q&As, and huge after-parties. We host over 45 outdoor movie events with more than 46,000 attendees per summer in over a dozen outdoor locations throughout New York City.

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 2,600) 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.

Rooftop Community Fund

In an effort to support truly independent screenings, Rooftop makes all its film/video exhibition equipment, as well as our event production expertise, available to the public through low-cost or free rentals through. In 2016 we donated and discounted over $175,000 worth of equipment and services to artists, nonprofits and community groups. From individual artists, local neighborhood organizations to larger community organizations, Rooftop provides a vital support system and resource to our community in all five boroughs.