Rooftop Films’ 14th annual Summer Series runs weekend from May 14-August 20, and provides a forum and an audience for emerging and established filmmakers who make deeply personal cinema, films that offer intimate looks into individual lives and distinct communities worldwide. Our films come from around the globe—we received over 2,500 submissions from some 50 countries—and include both world premieres and festival award-winners. The artists we present include first-time filmmakers, long-time outsider artists and seasoned film professionals. This year we will be screening 28 feature-length films and over 100 short films.
The selection includes an astonishingly diverse array of shorts and features, and we strive to make each event a unique and memorable experience. We’ll be doing two screenings this summer with live music soundtracks—Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then (June 26) and a secret premiere screening in July. On July 29 we’ll be hosting Luis Nieto, a filmmaking fabulist who will conduct a live cinematic performance sure to astound and confound. And with many New York, US and World Premieres, we’ll have tens of filmmakers and documentary subjects at our screenings, on hand for public Q&As and one-on-one conversations with audience members.
This welcoming feeling is central to who we are as an organization. At Rooftop Films, we don’t screen in theaters, we screen in communities. With venues in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx, including artist buildings, schools, environmental centers, parks and piers, Rooftop has always been about the live collective experience, exploring new places and ideas. We are proud to be able to participate in the preservation of some of our city’s most unique locations and the rejuvenation of great spaces left fallow or driven into decline. Our choice of screening locations invites you to discover hidden and obscure urban landscapes places. To us, open-air cinema is more than a spectacle; it’s an artistic opening. And this creative choice is reflected in our programming. We screen films that show us where you live and how you live.
We screen films at venues relevant to the subject matter, creating meaningful and memorable connections between the art and the venue. At El Museo del Barrio, we’ll be screening films from Latin America that are all about neighbors, communities, and collaborations. In Fort Greene and in the Bronx, we’ll be showing movies by and about people of color in America, working with the Brooklyn Arts Council’s “Black Brooklyn Renaissance.” At The Old American Can Factory, a revitalized industrial space, we’ll be showing films that focus on the effects of global industry on individuals. We’ll be traveling throughout rural New York and Pennsylvania showing Gasland, a film about the potential environmental effects of proposed natural gas drilling in those areas. And, of course, we’ll also be bringing fun, artistic, inventive movies to mirthful audiences everywhere.
We focus our short film programs around a tight central thesis, addressing a detailed time, idea or genre. Each short hones in on the minute textures of one person’s or group’s lived experience, while the program as a whole provides a rich tapestry of ideas, stories, and identities—achieving a broadness of scope while maintaining difference and detail. Our Opening Night program is a fittingly grand kick-off, with films about big stories in little packages. At the opposite end of the summer, our Closing Night show includes films all about changes and conclusions. Our two love-themed short film programs provide a romantic date night for couples, or a convenient event for finding a new partner. Our two animation programs will dazzle you with their wild creativity. Our “Home Movies” show provides the intimate thrill of reading someone’s diary, while our “Fears and Fantasies” show provides the visceral thrill of living someone’s dreams (and nightmares). Our annual “New York Non-Fiction” program is perhaps our signature event, revealing the unknown stories that make this city such a lively place to be.
Rooftop Films examines overlooked or misunderstood communities, and gives a stage to unheralded people who are operating outside the mainstream or under the radar. We work with filmmakers, curators and festivals around the world to find commonalities between artists and groups, and to bring people together through our diverse and popular screenings.
At Rooftop Films, we bring underground movies outdoors.