NYC's Rooftop Films Reveals an Exceptional 2013 Summer Selection
Damn, what a line-up. I love this already. "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." Every summer they host a "festival", or series of outdoor screenings showing acclaimed indie films as well as special presentations with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. For the summer of 2013, they've chosen a few solid Sundance/SXSW faves (Ain't Them Bodies Saints, Short Term 12) for what looks like an exceptional line-up.
Not many of these are premieres, and many have screened at festivals before, but this is much more about the setting and chance to see these great films. A few may be free, but general admission is usually around $13. "The Academy is excited to bring the Oscars outdoors experience to New York audiences," says Patrick Harrison, the Academy's New York Program Director. "Partnering with Rooftop Films will enable us to spotlight festival standouts." The festival will kick off with Noah Baumbach's Frances Ha, which I saw in Telluride last year and loved, and some shorts with the opening screenings May 10th/11th. Get tickets here.
I've seen many of these and they are some of the best films from the festivals. I may go see them again here! "Of course we are excited about our feature films every year," says Dan Nuxoll, Program Director for Rooftop Films, "but this season we are focusing more than ever on making our feature film events truly memorable and distinct." "One of the things which is eye-catching about our 2013 feature film lineup," says Rooftop's Founder and Artistic Director, Mark Elijah Rosenberg, "is that despite the astounding diversity of films, there's a common thread in an intimate approach. This very personal filmmaking lends itself to Rooftop's daring approach to showing movies." Found below is the full line-up for the 2013 Summer Series:
12 O'Clock Boys (Dir. Lotfy Nathan)
Pug, a young boy growing up on a combative West Baltimore block, finds solace in a group of illegal dirt bike riders known as The 12 O'Clock Boys. Courtesy of Oscilloscope Laboratories. Part of Rooftop's SXSW weekend.
Ain't Them Bodies Saints (Dir. David Lowery)
Ain't Them Bodies Saints tells the tale of an outlaw who escapes from prison and sets out across the Texas hills to reunite with his wife and the daughter he has never met. Courtesy of IFC Films.
Awful Nice (Dir. Todd Sklar)
Estranged brothers Jim and Dave must travel to Branson together when their father dies and leaves them the family lake home. A series of hilarious mishaps and costly misadventures follow as they attempt to restore the house and rebuild their relationship. Part of Rooftop's SXSW weekend.
Belleville Baby (Dir. Mia Engberg)
A long distance call from a long lost lover makes her reminisce about their common past. She remembers the spring when they met in Paris, the riots, the vespa and the cat named Baby. A film about love, time and things that got lost along the way.
Bending Steel (Dir. David Carroll, produced by Ryan Scafuro)
A remarkable and intimate documentary exploring the lost art of the old time strongman, and one man's struggle to overcome limitations of body and mind.
Brasslands (Dir. Meerkat Media Collective) NY Premiere
Devoted American musicians, Serbian brass heavyweights, and a Gypsy trumpet master collide at the world's largest trumpet festival. Presented by Rooftop Films and Arts Brookfield.
Brothers Hypnotic (Dir. Reuben Atlas) NY Premiere
Brotherhood, whether biological or ideological, is never easy. Brothers Hypnotic is a coming-of-age story—for eight young men, and for an ideal. Free screening presented with Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and Forest City Ratner.
The Central Park Five (Dir. Sarah Burns, Ken Burns, Dave McMahon)
Set against a backdrop of a decaying city beset by violence and racial tension, The Central Park Five tells the story of how five lives were upended by the rush to judgment by police, a sensationalist media and a devastating miscarriage of justice. Courtesy of Florentine Films. Free screening presented with the Ford Foundation and Friends of Dag Hammarksold Plaza.
Crystal Fairy (Dir. Sebastián Silva)
A hilariously unpredictable comedy about a self-involved young American searching for a secret hallucinogenic cactus in the desert of Chile. Courtesy of IFC Films. Presented by Rooftop Films and indieWIRE.
Cutie and the Boxer (Dir. Zachary Heinzerling)
This candid New York love story explores the chaotic 40-year marriage of renowned "boxing" painter Ushio Shinohara and his wife, Noriko. Anxious to shed her role of assistant to her overbearing husband, Noriko seeks an identity of her own. Courtesy of RADiUs-TWC.
The Dirties (Dir. Matt Johnson)
Matt and Owen are best friends, who are constantly bullied by a group they call The Dirties. When an assignment goes awry, the friends hatch a plan to enact revenge on their high school tormentors.
Domestic (Dir. Adrian Sitaru)
Wonderfully surreal, painfully real, this is the story of children, adults and animals who live together trying to have a better life, but sometimes death comes unexpectedly. In the bittersweet comedy "Domestic" it is all about us, people who eat the animals that they love and the animals that love people unconditionally. Presented with Socrates Sculpture Park.
Drinking Buddies (Dir. Joe Swanberg)
Luke and Kate are co-workers at a Chicago brewery where they spend their days drinking and flirting. They're perfect for each other, except that they're both in relationships. But you know what makes the line between "friends" and "more than friends" really blurry? Beer. Presented in partnership with BAMcinemaFest.
Elena (Dir. Petra Costa)
Intimate in style, "Elena" delves into the abyss of one family's drama, revealing at once the inspiration that can be born from tragedy. Part of Rooftp's SXSW weekend.
The Expedition to the End of the World (Dir. Daniel Dencik)
A real adventure film – for the 21st century. On a three-mast schooner packed with artists, scientists and ambitions worthy of Noah or Columbus, they set off for the end of the world: the rapidly melting massifs of North-East Greenland.
Frances Ha (Dir. Noah Baumbach)
Frances wants so much more than she has, but lives her life with unaccountable joy and lightness. "Frances Ha" is a modern comic fable in which Noah Baumbach explores New York, friendship, class, ambition, failure, and redemption. Courtesy of IFC Films.
F--- for Forest (Dir. Michal Marczak)
Berlin's "F---" for Forest is one of the world's most bizarre charities: based on the idea that sex can change the world, the NGO raises money for their environmental cause by selling home-made erotic films on the Internet.
The Genius of Marian (Dir. Banker White)
An intimate family portrait that explores the tragedy of Alzheimer's disease, the power of art and the meaning of family. "The Genius of Marian" follows Pam White in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease as her son, the filmmaker, documents her struggle to hang on to a sense of self. Free screening presented with the Ford Foundation and Friends of Dag Hammarksold Plaza.
i hate myself (Dir. Joanna Arnow)
Nebbishy filmmaker Joanna Arnow documents her yearlong relationship with racially charged poet-provocateur James Kepple. What starts out as an uncomfortably intimate portrait of a dysfunctional relationship and protracted mid-twenties adolescence, quickly turns into a complex commentary on societal repression, sexuality and self-confrontation through art.
The Kings of Summer (Dir. Jordan Vogt-Roberts)
A unique coming-of-age comedy about three teenage friends who, in the ultimate act of independence, decide to spend their summer building a house in the woods and living off the land. Courtesy of CBS.
Newlyweeds (Dir. Shaka King)
Brooklyn residents Lyle and Nina blaze away the stress of living in New York City, but what should be a match made in stoner heaven turns into a love triangle gone awry. Courtesy of Phase 4 Films.
North of South, West of East (Dir. Meredith Danluck)
North of South, West of East takes a scrupulous look at the American Dream through Hollywood tropes and conventional cinema. Working with a narrative structure this four-part 85 minute film takes the chronic existential crisis that is the American identity and turns it inside out, laying the typical components of comedy, thrill, violence, love and death (the ultimate reinvention) neatly side by side. Free screening presented with Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and Forest City Ratner.
Our Nixon (Dir. Penny Lane and Brian L. Frye)
Throughout Richard Nixon's presidency, three of his top White House aides obsessively documented their experiences with Super 8 home movie cameras. Young, idealistic and dedicated, they had no idea that a few years later they'd all be in prison. "Our Nixon" is an all-archival documentary presenting those home movies for the first time, along with other rare footage, creating an intimate and complex portrait of the Nixon presidency as never seen before. Presented with Socrates Sculpture Park.
Short Term 12 (Dir. Destin Daniel Cretton)
Short Term 12 follows Grace (Brie Larson), a young supervisor at a foster-care facility, as she looks after the teens in her charge and reckons with her own troubled past. Presented in partnership with the Academy's Oscars Outdoors series.
Tiger Tail in Blue (Dir. Frank V. Ross)
Tiger Tail in Blue is about a young married couple, Christopher & Melody, that work opposite schedules to remain financially afloat as Chris bangs out his first novel while working nights as a waiter. Never seeing each other is taking its toll, as the two rarely get a chance to engage one another. Chris finds the attention he craves in the past and Brandy, a saucy co-worker.
Towheads (Dir. Shannon Plumb)
A harried New York mother struggling as an artist searches for a happy (if slightly unhinged) hybrid of the two. In her debut feature, Shannon Plumb's charming Chaplin-like characters light up the screen with visual playfulness.
Twenty Feet From Stardom (Dir. Morgan Neville)
Meet the unsung heroes behind the greatest music of our time. Courtesy of RADiUs-TWC. Presented in partnership with the Academy’s Oscars Outdoors series.
William and the Windmill (Dir. Ben Nabors)
William Kamkwamba, a young Malawian, builds a power-generating windmill from junk parts to rescue his family from famine, transforming his life and catapulting him on to the world stage. His fame and success lead him to new opportunities and complex choices about his future, distancing him from the life he once knew. Free screening presented with the Ford Foundation and Friends of Dag Hammarksold Plaza.
The 2013 Rooftop Films Summer Series begins on May 10th in New York City and continues through the summer, with screenings each weekend in a variety of outdoor locations. Rooftop Films' full feature film slate includes thrilling documentaries about urban dirt-bikers (12 O'Clock Boys), dangerous ex-lovers (Belleville Baby), and environmentalist pornographers (F---- For Forest); innovative works by daring young filmmakers (I hate myself, Elena, The Dirties); and sneak previews of the most exciting festival hits of the year, including wildly unpredictable comedies (Frances Ha, Crystal Fairy, Newlyweeds, The Kings of Summer) as well as powerful independent dramas (Drinking Buddies, Ain't Them Bodies Saints). Perfect.
"It is Rooftop's goal with each event and each season to re-imagine their festival and reinvigorate their community." This is one of the coolest independent groups supporting cinema in New York City and I can't wait to attend a bunch of these outdoor rooftop screenings myself this summer. I'll see you there! More info.