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

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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!The Films on Friday, May 13th:

LOVE & THEFT (Andreas Hykade | Germany | 7 min.)
The driving pulse of transformation reveals moments of terror and beauty amidst images familiar and domestic.

OOPS (Chris Beckman | Springfield, MO | 10 min.)
Conjuring creative connections out of mundane happenstance, Oops—composed entirely of appropriated YouTube videos—lies somewhere between a home-video mixtape and a postmodern travelogue.

THE EXTERNAL WORLD (David O’Reilly | Ireland | 15 min.)
A boy learns to play the piano.

THE PIANO TUNER (Olivier Treiner | France | 13 min.)
Adrien is a young piano prodigy. He now works as a piano tuner. He pretends to be blind in order to infiltrate his clients’ intimacy. Since he sees things he should not, Adrien ends up witnessing a murder.

HEARTPOCALYPSE (Matthew Silver | Brooklyn, NY | 7 min.)
In a dynamic bit of spontaneous street art, a crazed doomsayer ranting underneath a Brooklyn subway track brings to life his worst nightmares—and the crowd loves it.

BIG BANG BIG BOOM (Blu | Italy | 10 min.)
This ingenious animation uses the city as its canvas in a short unscientific story about evolution and its possible consequences.

LEDO AND IX BATTLE EPICALLY (Emily Carmichael | Brooklyn, NY | 4 min.)
The third in a series of films about two adventurers in an old-school fantasy video game. Ledo, the tiny 8-bit heroine, has been obsessively upgrading her weapons and tirelessly honing her attacks, all in preparation for great battles that have never materialized. Supported by the Rooftop Filmmakers’ Fund.

YEARBOOK (Carter Smith | New York, NY | 10 min.)
The yearbook photo never tells the whole story in this creepy portrait of small town high school sexuality from the award-winning creator of Bugcrush.

PIONEER (David Lowery | Dallas, TX | 15 min.)
A father (Will Oldham) tells his little boy the most epic bedtime story ever.

Saturday, May 14th
World Premiere: Freeloader

Venue: Open Road Rooftop, 350 Grand Street @ Essex (Lower East Side)
Subway: F, J, M, Z to Delancey Street-Essex Street; B, D, Q to Grand Street
8:00 PM Doors Open
8:30 PM Live Music by Emily Reo
9:00 PM Film Begins
11:30 PM After Party at Fontanas
Tickets and more info at: http://rooftopfilms.com/2011/schedule/freeloader/

(Zachary Raines | New York | World Premiere)

A special World Premiere of the new black comedy from New York based filmmaker Zachary Raines.

It’s not easy being heart-broken, down on your luck, and out on your own in New York City—particularly when you’re a Grade A jerk.

All of us know someone like Frank (Kyle Espeleta). He’s kind of clever, but a little too much of a smart ass. He’ll make you chuckle—until he aims his sarcasm at you. He’s a bright guy, but he hasn’t held down a job in a while. It’s true he’s over-qualified for the menial job you landed for him, but did he have to be so dismissive when he quit? It may seem easy to write off someone like Frank, but it’s hard to take your eyes off him as this insightful dark comedy makes you squirm awkwardly.

An establishing shot outside a Brooklyn apartment shows a graveyard, telling us it’s morning, and it’s not going to be a good one. Inside, Frank is hung over (again). He would’ve overslept work if he had a job, but he has missed his opportunity to have that relationship talk with Pearl he so desperately, drunkenly wanted to have late last night. It seems like Frank just can’t catch a break—or is it that he keeps breaking things?

When Pearl (Vassi Spanos) tenderly tries to break up with him, Frank (as usual) makes an awkward situation more difficult than it has to be: he simplifies things, spins them around, and simultaneously goes on the attack while feigning victimhood. It’s a masterful maneuver, as far as dick moves go. As uncomfortable as Frank’s faux pas are, they’re always uncomfortably funny.

Perhaps Frank’s gripes are justified, but he’s always digging in for a fight, overtly passive-aggressive, and he manages to make everyone involved feel badly. Even while living off the gifts of others, Frank makes sure to his best friend Bud (John Siciliani), his ex-girlfriend Pearl, and anyone else he encounters won’t be happy with or without him. At last, while shacking up with overly-eager Ray (“with the pedophile smile”), it appears that Frank might be recognizing something about himself, coming out of his bitter shell. Frank goes to Ray’s (Jesse Wakeman) comedy show—a blinding bomb of a performance that serves as the metaphoric epicenter of the movie—and for the first time Frank earnestly tries to project empathy. It’s almost tragic how badly that comes off. This is, after all, a dude who’s even sarcastic to the sea.

Writer-Director-Editor Zachary Raines delicately draws sharp and nuanced performances out of the entire cast, and cuts the naturalistic dialogue crisply, keeping each scene light and funny, even when the subtext sinks further and further into negativity. Freeloader is on some level a fantastic farce, set in a New York City neo-realism that satirizes some of our society’s delightfully nasty tendencies.

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