The L.E.S. Film Festival Revs Up For Year Three

The L.E.S. Film Festival founders. Left to right: Damon Cardasis, Roxy Hunt, Shannon Walker and Tony Castle. Photo by Zack McTee.

The L.E.S. Film Festival founders. Left to right: Damon Cardasis, Roxy Hunt, Shannon Walker and Tony Castle. Photo by Zack McTee.

It’s refreshing to meet new Lower East Siders dedicated to not selling out. For example, take LES Film Festival founders Damon Cardasis and Shannon Walker, who made an ultra-low-budget film (under $10,000) in seven days back in 2010.

“You do all this hard work and nobody really gets to see it at the end of the day,” says Cardasis. That was the inspiration to bring just such movies to a bigger audience: he felt there must be other people in the same position and decided to create a platform for screening them. And what better neighborhood to give such unpretentious, underground art a start than the Lower East Side?

Rooftop Films Kicks Off 15th Annual Summer Series on the LES

Rooftop Films at Open Road Rooftop - photo by Sarah Palmer

Rooftop Films, the popular non-profit open-air film festival that supports independent filmmakers, is kicking off its 15th Annual Summer Series this weekend. The films will be screened at the Open Road Rooftop (350 Grand St.) – formerly the roof of Seward Park High, now part of the New Design High School. The rooftop area is being revitalized through the efforts of Open Road of New York, a group founded in 1990 to work with children, teenagers, and adults on outdoor environmental projects.

Friday’s lineup (opening night) will include a series of short films – “epic stories that could save your life,” and live music by Dustin Wong. On Saturday, the festival will present the World Premiere of New York Filmmaker Zachary Raines new black comedy Freeloader, preceeded by live music by Emily Reo. Both nights end with an afterparty at Fontana’s.

The Lo-Down is thrilled to announce we will be offering FREE tickets to the shows that are on Open Road Rooftop this summer.  Visit our Facebook Page for more details!

Free Film Preview of “Variations,” Made By Lower East Side Residents, Tonight

From Marinella Senatore's "Variations," a film made in collaboration with Lower East Side Residents this past January.

We met Italian filmmaker Marinella Senatore a few months ago when she was in town casting for her latest collaborative film project, Variations.  She was looking for residents from the neighborhood to write, shoot and perform in the production. Now, the completed piece is included in No Longer Empty’s group show, About Face.  This evening, you can watch a preview of the film and hear the filmmaker talk about the process of creating such a unique project. It’s being screened at the Millenium Film Workshop on E. 4th Street at 7pm. They write:

Film Series: The Biggest Jewish City in the World

This month’s LES Heritage Film Series will feature the 1976 film, The Biggest Jewish City in the World. The film was directed by David Gill and was produced as a part of the TV series, “Destination: America.” It will be shown on 16mm film and looks to have some amazing images of the Lower East Side, including footage and interviews from 1900-1976. The film begins with footage of the LES at the turn of the century, and progresses from “sweatshops and labor strikes, to early American-Jewish institutions like the Daily Forward newspaper and Yeshiva University, to prosperous descendants of Jewish immigrants living on Long Island.” Featuring commentary by Irving Howe and Sam Levenson. 58 minutes.

FREE // 6:30p // 192 East Broadway (at Jefferson St.) – downstairs.

Hidden Gems in Seward Park Library’s Heritage Film Series

Over the last couple months, the Seward Park Library has quietly been screening some remarkable historical footage from the Lower East Side. The Lower East Side Heritage Film Series features films (both documentary and fictional) that were shot on location in lower Manhattan.  Part 1 of the series treated audiences to actual 16mm footage shot by L.E.S. residents and librarians in the 1930’s, ’40’s and ’50’s in the Seward Park area.

HiChristina Makes a Movie – With YOU

Fritz Donnelly, in a Production still from I LIKE YOU, shot by Eric Schneider

The wacky and wonderful interactive performance feel-good duo HiChristina (Fritz Donnelly and Christina Ewald) are making a movie.  It’s their first full-length feature film and they want you to be in it.  Maybe you already have been in it — they have already shot quite a bit on the Lower East Side, including the night they invited people to be in a hilarious group scene at Dixon Place by dressing up in bright colors and getting mani-pedies, while while feeding live (human) monkeys.  Oh, and I think there were tango lessons involved at some point during the night, as well.