Rooftop Films Returns to Lower East Side June 9

Rooftop Films/Seward Park HS

Rooftop Films returns to the Lower East Side in about a week with the first of several screenings on the rooftop at New Design High School.

They’re kicking it off June 9 with a romantic short films program, “Love is Weird.” Beforehand, there will be a musical performance by Philadelphia quartet, Queens of Jeans. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. (be prepared to trudge up the stairs to the roof). The film begin at 8:30, and there will be Q&A afterwards, as well as an after-party at DCTV on Lafayette Street.

Rooftop Films is back in the neighborhood June 15 with more shorts,  “about hasty, lusty, slightly awkward encounters.”

On June 22, there’s a feature presentation, “The Gospel of Eureka.” The documentary, narrated by Mx Justin Vivian Bond, tells the story of, “love, faith and civil rights (colliding) in a (small Arkansas) town as evangelical Christians and drag queens step into the spotlight to dismantle stereotypes.”

On Saturday, July 14, Rooftop Films presents a shorts program, “Come and Take It,” featuring films by and about women who, “aren’t afraid to confront complex issues like gentrification and media representations, to fight on camera, to release primal animal screams into the internet, or to defiantly aim their dildos at the faces of heavily armed men.”

The Lower East Side portion of the program wraps up Aug. 14 with “The Breaker Uppers,” a feature about best friends who run a business which specializes in breaking up couples for cash.

All Rooftop Films events cost $16. New Design High School is located at 350 Grand St. You can find more details here.

Rooftop Films Returns to Lower East Side May 27

rooftop films

Here’s something to cheer about as the summer approaches. After an absence of several years, Rooftop Films is returning to the Lower East Side this season.

The rooftop of New Design High School was closed while an incredibly lengthy asbestos abatement project took place in the building formerly known as Seward Park High School. But that’s now completed, so the summer film series is adding the venue to its schedule once again this year.

The series kicks off in Brooklyn May 19 (full schedule). You can see the Lower East Side offerings below.

Saturday, May 27: The Genius and the Opera Singer (Vanessa Stockley)  | A 92-year-old former opera singer and her volatile daughter have inhabited a rent-controlled Manhattan penthouse for the last fifty-five years – along with their obese chihuahua, Angelina Jolie. An unsettling portrait of a mother-daughter relationship, The Genius and the Opera Singer explores their intense emotional states and the knotted riddle of their past.

Saturday, June 3: Dark Toons: Animated Short Films | These toons are chocked full of furry animals and imaginative creatures but they are not for Sunday morning. The twisted and perverse landscapes of our annual Dark Toons program provide a unique backdrop for stories of life askew. From a true story of forced labor at communist-era prison that kept megastores in the West fully-stocked to a beautifully-animated and probably-alcoholic badger which has a run-in with the law and a woman who can’t stop growing fingers, these tales remind us that animation is the ideal medium to glimpse the darker side of life.

Friday, June 9: New York Nonfiction | You see them every day. They’re on the train with you. They’re in your bodega. They’re your neighbors. But after this program of short films, we guarantee you’ll see them in a new light. Ours is a city full of record-holding record holders, spousal adoptions, trash havens, civil rights pioneers, lapsed goth kids, sexting teens, rambles full of leathermen, and unending change; and we like it that way… for the most part.

Saturday, June 17:  Mr. Roosevelt (Noël Wells) | Emily Martin (Noël Wells) is a struggling 20-something who moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in comedy after graduating college in Austin, Texas. When a loved one falls sick, she returns to Austin and runs into her ex-boyfriend, as well as his amazing and intimidating new girlfriend. Low on funds and stuck in Texas for the weekend, Emily stays with the two of them in her old, but miraculously remodeled house. She quickly finds her way into the circle of a local female badass who shows Emily a good time and tries to keep her from spinning out as she goes toe-to-toe with the new girlfriend, all the ways her ex has changed, and ultimately, her own choices and guilt about leaving the past behind.

Friday, June 30: Brigsby Bear (Dave McCary) | After 25 years of secluded existence with his protective parents in their isolated, off-the-grid home, James (Kyle Mooney) is tossed out into a new life in relatively daunting Cedar Hills, Utah. As his world upends, the most shocking revelation to James is that he’s the only person who has ever watched his favorite television program, Brigsby Bear Adventures. Struggling to adjust to the show’s abrupt end, he begins to see Brigsby’s lessons as his only way to make sense of a big, scary new world, and James decides to make a movie to end Brigsby’s story—and re-begin his own.

Friday, July 7: Whose Streets? (Sabaah Folayan, Damon Davis) | Told by the activists and leaders who live and breathe this movement for justice, Whose Streets? is an unflinching look at the Ferguson uprising. When unarmed teenager Michael Brown is killed by police and left lying in the street for hours, it marks a breaking point for the residents of St. Louis, Missouri. Grief, long-standing racial tensions and renewed anger bring residents together to hold vigil and protest this latest tragedy. Empowered parents, artists, and teachers from around the country come together as freedom fighters. As the National Guard descends on Ferguson with military grade weaponry, these young community members become the torchbearers of a new resistance.

Michael Cera on the LES Friday For “Crystal Fairy” Screening

Michael Sera, Gaby Hoffman.

Michael Sera, Gaby Hoffman.

If you are having withdrawal after blazing through season four of Arrested Development on Netflix, you’re in luck. Michael Cera will be on the Lower East Side Friday night for a “sneak peek” of his new film. “Crystal Fairy.”

“Frances Ha” Greeted With Cynical Debate From Crowd

Frances Ha still via Rooftop Films

Frances Ha still
via Rooftop Films

Rooftop Films opened this weekend with an advance screening of Noah Baumbach’s “Frances Ha” to a controversial reception. Almost drowned out by a spectacular spring thunderstorm, the evening started in the elaborately painted auditorium of Open Road High School on the Lower East Side. The band Brazos played eerie, rousing, psychedelic rock n’ roll as murals loomed over the stage and trippy reflections of color were projected on a screen behind them.

When the band put down their instruments to applause, Rooftop Films founder Mark Elijah Rosenberg announced the weather would hold and the film would be shown on the roof. Crowds pushed joyously to the top of the building where a clear sky and sparkling skyline greeted us.

Arts Watch: Rooftop Films Kicks Off Summer Season This Weekend

Frances Ha  Courtesy Rooftop Films

Frances Ha

Our favorite outdoor movies series, Rooftop Films, kicks off its 17th summer season this weekend right here on the LES with two signature programs: This is What We Mean by Short Films, and a sneak peek at writer and director Noah Baumbach’s feature, Frances Ha.  

Opening night’s This is What We Mean by Short Films features a line up that according to Rooftop, are “grand stories in little packages with some of the greatest new short films from all around the world.” Shorts to watch out for include Azul, about a small group of cruise-ship revelers who find themselves alone on a mysterious tropical island, and the documentary, Slomo, about “life-shifting, philosophy, and slow-motion rollerblading.”

Rooftop Films Announces Opening Weekend of 2013 Summer Series

Rooftop Films at Open Road Rooftop - photo by Sarah Palmer

Rooftop Films at Open Road Rooftop – photo by Sarah Palmer

Our friends at Rooftop Films have announced the lineup for the opening weekend of their 17th Annual Summer Series.  They’ll be kicking off the summer season down here at the Open Road Rooftop at New Design High School (350 Grand St., formerly Seward Park High School) on Friday, May 10th with their beloved short film program, “This is What We Mean by Short Films.”

Rooftop Films Raising Money to Return to the LES

Our friends at Rooftop Films are doing a Kickstarter Campaign to keep their summer series going.  They put on fun events at different rooftop venues throughout the city, but the films they screen on the L.E.S. at Open Road Rooftop (on top of the old Seward Park High School) have always been some of their biggest and most popular. Apparently, Open Road Rooftop has raised their rental rates, so it’s important to help chip in on this one, if you are a fan of independent film.

Rooftop Films Takes On Modern Love This Weekend

"Gayby," one of the films about modern love playing at Rooftop Films this weekend.

This weekend, Rooftop Films’ Summer Series takes a turn for the romantic, offering movies both comic and touching about the sultriest of topics: modern love. On Friday, “Is It Love?”—a series of short films from several directors about contemporary love and relationships—screens on the roof at 350 Grand Street. Doors open at 8, and the films begin at 9. On Saturday, Rooftop will host the New York premier of “Gayby,” a comedy that follows a single woman and her gay best friend as they decide to fulfill a childhood dream to conceive a child—and struggle to prepare for its arrival. The film, which made successful appearances at SXSW and the Los Angeles Film Festival, will also begin at 9 p.m., but come early, because tickets are limited.

Rooftop Films Returns to Open Road Rooftop With Dark Toons and Kumaré

photo via

Rooftop Films has been showing films outdoors in some of the most stunning outdoor rooftop venues around NYC for the past 16 years. One of those rooftops is right here on Grand Street at Open Road Rooftop at New Design High School. If you weren’t able to attend the opening of Rooftop’s 16th Annual Summer Series two weeks ago, here’s another chance to experience ‘al fresco film watching’ in the heart of the LES.

Just in time to kick off Memorial Day weekend, Rooftop Films returns with two programs that will surely help get you into that ‘summer’s coming three-day weekend mood.’ Friday’s Dark Toons line up features eleven short films programmed to deliver an night of “enjoyably evil animation.” They note, “this year’s filmmakers use just about every trick in the book to conjure up their visual magic.” The band Softspot opens the evening with their hauntingly meditative music.

Review: Bryan Wizemann’s ‘Think of Me’

Image from Think of Me. Photo by Bryan Hainer

Sultry sadness is a single mom living off the Vegas strip, struggling to raise her young daughter in Bryan Wizemann’s Think of Me. The film helped kick off Rooftop Films’ opening weekend on the sprawling roof of New Design High School Saturday, the lurid lights of Las Vegas playing beautifully against the skyline of the Lower East Side.

The city within a city feel of the surroundings made me more acutely aware of the urban struggle to provide for family. Poignant and painful, Wizemann’s love letter to Las Vegas stars Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under) as single mother Angela, whose frustration—at her absentee ex-husband, string of thankless jobs, rickety old car—explodes in volleys of ‘fucks,’ endless cigarettes and meaningless one night stands. All this is witnessed by her 8 year-old daughter, Sunny, whose ragamuffin joy bursts through in brief moments that envelope mother and daughter in something close to comfort.

Rooftop Films Kicks Off Summer Film Series This Weekend

Rooftop Films is kicking off it’s summer series at the Open Road Rooftop on Grand Street this weekend. Their evening of short films from around the world, tonight, is sold out, but you can still get tickets for Bryan Wizemann’s feature, Think of Me, starring Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under, Sleep Walk With Me) tomorrow night. It’s a great environment in which to watch indie films and each program starts of with live music.  Bird Courage will be playing tomorrow night and there is an after-party at Fontana’s.

$12 // Doors open at 8pm // 350 Grand Street // Bring a picnic, but alcohol is not permitted.


Rooftop Films Announces Summer Features Lineup, Seeks Emerging Bands

Rooftop Films at Open Road Rooftop - photo by Sarah Palmer

Our friends at Rooftop Films have announced the feature film lineup for their upcoming 16th Annual Summer Series.  They’ve been kicking off their summer season down here at the Open Road Rooftop at New Design High School (formerly Seward Park High School) for the last few years and will do so again on Friday, May 11th. Their always excellent evening of short films titled, “This is what we mean by Short Films,” will include a selection of new films from around the world. On Saturday, May 12th, they will present a special preview screening of Think of Me, starring Lauren Ambrose.

Short Films and the Internet’s Most Famous Baby, on the Roof This Friday

Still from Johannes Nyholm's Youtube sensation, and now full-fledged short film, LAS PALMAS debuting at Rooftop Films this Friday

The independent summer film series from Rooftop Films continues on the Open Road Rooftop this Friday with a selection of short films from New York and Sweden (they are partnering with the Swedish Film Institute this summer).

One of the highlights of the evening will be the US premier of the short, Las Palmas, by Swedish animator Johannes Nyholm. The “trailer” was a Youtube sensation – viewed by over 9 million people – and features his one-year-old daughter portraying a middle-aged lady get a little “tipsy” on holiday.  The complete version was produced in part by the Rooftop Filmmakers’ Fund and just screened at the Cannes Film Festival. Nyholm will be at the show in person for a Q&A after the film.

Balmy Rooftop: The Dish and the Spoon

Greta Gerwig and Olly Alexander in a film still from The Dish and the Spoon, at Rooftop Films this past weekend

We landed on the roof over the weekend to catch the Rooftop Films presentation of The Dish and the Spoon. Screened at Seward Park High School, known as Open Road Rooftop to the folks at Rooftop Films, it was part of a series of films that premiered at the annual South by Southwest Festival in March.

The film stars mumblecore darling Greta Gerwig as Rose, a young woman who experiences a meltdown after learning about her husband’s affair and takes up with an emotionally stranded British teenager played by Olly Alexander. The sweet coming of age story takes place amid the wreckage and ruin of a desolate off-season Delaware beach town.

Rooftop Films to Show Special SXSW Films

Greta Gerwig and Olly Alexander in a film still from The Dish and the Spoon

Rooftop Films is bringing two South By Southwest 2011 film premiers to Grand Street this weekend. On Friday, they will screen the New York premier of The Dish and the Spoon, with star Greta Gerwig in person, and on Saturday they will present the coming of age film No Matter What.

Gerwig, an indie startlett (Baghead, Greenberg) who has just started to “cross over” in to some big blockbusters (she was just in Arthur) is featured in The Dish and the Spoon as the romantically wounded Rose, a woman intent on seeking revenge against her unfaithful husband, who encounters equally an equally downtrodden British teen (newcomer Olly Alexander), who has traveled to American to meet a woman only to find that she has abandoned him.