Short Film Program

Cemetery Shorts

PLEASE NOTE: Online sales have ended, but tickets will be available for purchase at the door.

A bittersweet program about joy and sorrow, love and loss, celebration and mourning.


Fri Jun 17 7:45 PM

Five years ago, when Rooftop Films first started presenting films in Green-Wood Cemetery, we were excited for a great many reasons. In addition to it being a gorgeous and historic location, we were also intrigued by the curatorial possibilities of the space. Green-Wood as an institution is dedicated to being a place where we can all contemplate death, loss, and mourning, and do so in our own ways, and we hoped that some of our events there could serve as opportunities for contemplation of loss. Now, an annual Rooftop Films & Green-Wood tradition, our Cemetery Shorts program does just that.

The characters in these films quest for the meaning of life and death. Characters search through old photographs, dream of lost loved ones, revisit the burial sites of those dear, and reminisce about tragedies–some of which were averted, some of which were not. The grass growing from a grave feeds a flock of gentle sheep. A couple dodges death deep in the woods. Filmmakers and poetry enthusiasts divine meaning from radioactive fallout, and axolotls gone too soon. Join us on the idyllic grounds of Green-Wood Cemetery, and we can contemplate endings and new beginnings, together.

The Films

Crazy Mel’s Auto Emporium

Kevin Maher | US, Australia | 1

Crazy Mel's customer guarantee is like no other.

Deerwoods Deathtrap

James P. Gannon | US | 9

50 years ago Jack and Betty were hit by a train and survived. This is their story.

A Goat's Spell

Gerhard Funk | Germany | 9

A child and their day. A conquest before breakfast. A clueless goat outside the house. A couple of promising airplanes up high in the sky. Then everything starts falling to pieces. The goat seems to be the link, if anything is linked at all.

Heidi Lau's Spirit Vessels

Bryan Chang | US | 8

The first ever artist-in-residence at Green-Wood Cemetery, sculptor Heidi Lau channels personal history, colonial culture, and the spiritual world through her hands and into her otherworldly clay works. “Instead of me sculpting it, it's like it's sculpting me back," Lau says of her chosen medium. Set on the grounds and in the Catacombs of Green-Wood, this film explores a uniquely tactile yet spiritual relationship between an artist and her material.

If I Go Will They Miss Me

Walter Thompson-Hernández | US | 13

On January 14th, 2020, a Delta Airlines Boeing 777 jetliner headed to LAX dumped jet fuel on several Southeast Los Angeles elementary schools. In spite of these dangers, Lil’ Ant’s twelve year old imagination is boundless. He is fascinated by Pegasus, the Greek mythological creature. He dreams of flying like him and sees a mysterious group of airplane people who come out to fly every evening. Big Ant sees them too. Big Ant begins to see his son’s interest in flying grow just like he once did when he was his son’s age. He understands that Lil Ant will be flying soon, urging him to bless his son’s upcoming flight with a father’s prayer meant for him and the entire community.

A Nice Little Film About A Nice Little Death

Julia Mendoza Friedman | US | 18

A Nice Little Film About A Nice Little Death is a first-person love letter to history, inheritance, and the gawky clumsiness of grieving. It follows Julia's relationship with her grandmother for one month before she dies, and then for several months as Julia occupies the otherworldly catacomb of her grandmother's Upper East Side apartment.

Some Kind of Intimacy

Toby Bull | UK, France | 6

In the British countryside, director Toby Bull observes the sheep that live on the land where his parents were buried several years ago. Talking to his brother on the phone, they start a conversation about the means of communication between the animal kingdom, that of the living and that of the dead. An original perspective on bereavement, tackled with humour and tenderness.

This is What a Smile Looks Like

Jack Dunphy | US | 2

Filmmaker Jack Dunphy honors his late grandpa Larry by deconstructing a photograph of Larry holding him as a toddler. Comprised of only three shots, this experimental tribute offers spiritual, yet earthbound revelations about the nature of life, death and legacy.

What Travelers Are Saying About Jornada del Muerto

Hope Tucker | US | 14

Visitors and residents of the Tularosa Basin, site of the first detonation of an atomic bomb, contribute to the production of public memory as they offer reckonings and advice about making "the journey of the dead."


Jonatan Schwenk | Germany | 4

In the dark swamps of a nocturnal forest, a group of gleaming axolotls is in heat, nuzzling and nibbling one another’s limbs. Soon a much larger, two-legged forest-dweller encounters the lustful group and reaches down to gobble one of the small shimmering creatures. His plump friends begin to partake as well and a feast begins.


Queen Esther

After the avalanche of critical acclaim for her 2021 Black Americana album Gild The Black Lily, Harlem based songwriter, musician and producer Queen Esther – described as “a Black Lucinda Williams” (Vanity Fair) and “the unknown Queen of Americana” (Feedback) – will release Rona, the fifth release on her imprint EL Recordings, later this summer. Written while in lockdown during the pandemic, the 7 song EP includes variations on jazz infused twang-drenched alt-Americana, augmented by an interesting take on two cover songs: “Lost Without Your Love” by the 70s supergroup Bread and a visceral, no holds barred vocal + guitar jazz version of the rock band Queen’s iconic anthem “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

When she released her first album Talkin’ Fishbowl Blues, Queen Esther recontextualized the term Black Americana to describe her sound, “melding roots. pop and R&B in a way that Lucinda Williams, Melissa Etheridge and Sheryl Crow never could on their best days” (Amplifier). With the 2014 release The Other Side, “she unveils her obvious affection for and mastery of country music” (Paste), moving further towards a reclamation driven soundscape that gave birth to 2021’s Gild The Black Lily.

Queen Esther’s creative output musically is the culmination of several critical Southern elements, not the least of which are years of recording and touring internationally as frontwoman for several projects with her mentor, harmolodic guitar icon James “Blood” Ulmer, including a stint in his seminal band Odyssey. Raised in Atlanta, Georgia and rooted in Charleston, South Carolina’s culturally rich and enigmatic Lowcountry, a region with African traditions and Black folkways that span centuries and continue to inform her work, she embraces a deep and abiding love of lost American history along with her wide-ranging and ever changing sonic influences, as she leans heavily on the bluing of the note.

A member of SAG/AFTRA and Actors Equity as well as the Dramatist's Guild and the Recording Academy, Queen Esther’s work in New York City as a vocalist, lyricist, songwriter, actor, solo performer, playwright and librettist has led to creative collaborations in neo-vaudeville, alt-theater, various alt-rock configurations, (neo) swing bands, trip-hop DJs, spoken word performances, jazz combos, jam bands, various blues configurations, original Off-Broadway plays and musicals, experimental music/art noise and performance art.

Event Details

7:45 PM
Doors Open
8:15 PM
Live Music from Queen Esther
9:00 PM
Films Begin
10:30 PM
Q&A with Filmmakers
11:00 PM
Reception Begins

Can I bring food and drinks?

No outside alcoholic beverages are allowed. Feel free to bring snacks and non-alcoholic beverages!

Do I need to wear a mask?

All attendees are required to wear a mask during check in, and while indoors. Masks are encouraged while interacting with staff outdoors. Mask policy may be updated based on current local conditions at the time of the event. Ticket holders will be notified of policy changes via email prior to the event.

Where will the screening take place within Green-Wood Cemetery?

Check in will be at the main entrance on 25th Street and 5th Avenue, but the screening location will be about a 5-6 minute walk up a relatively steep, paved hill from there. Please contact us if someone in your party will need assistance getting to the location.

Are there ID requirements or an age limit to enter the event?

Rooftop Films are open to all ages, but ID and proof of age is required for entry. You must be 21+ to attend the after party.

What are my transport/parking options getting to the event?

For a full list of Rooftop Films venues and directions, click here.

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Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event?

No need to bring your ticket! Just give your name / name of the ticket holder at the door for entry.

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Green-Wood Cemetery

500 25th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11232

venue on Google Map

The show presented in partnership with