This year’s 22nd Rooftop Films Summer Series, taking place May 19th to August 25th, today announced the majority of the feature film slate. The open-air festivities will kick off on Saturday, May 19th, with “This is What We Mean by Short Films,” a collection of some of the most innovative short films of the past year.
The 2018 Summer Series will continue through August with screenings of exceptional new films. Highlights include Desiree Akhavan’s Sundance-winning The Miseducation of Cameron Post; Bart Layton’s true-crime, heist movie American Animals; Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire’s scintillating Muay Thai prison drama, A Prayer Before Dawn; the New York Premiere of Suzi Yoonessi’s Unlovable, starring Charlene deGuzman and John Hawkes; Brett Haley’s Hearts Beat Loud, starring Nick Offerman in his debut leading role; Augustine Frizzel’s slacker comedy Never Goin’ Back; the U.S. premiere of Exit Music, a documentary celebration of the life of 28-year-old Ethan Rice as he faces terminal illness; and a special Rooftop Films members-only sneak preview screening of Carlos López Estrada’s Blindspotting, starring Daveed Diggs.
“Rooftop Films is famous for creating fun, custom-curated, large-scale events that augment the experience of watching our favorite new films,” said Dan Nuxoll, Artistic Director of Rooftop Films. “This year we have put extra effort into adding exciting components to every event, including a performance from the vivacious Arkansas drag queens from Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher’s The Gospel of Eureka. This year we will showcase a wider variety of fascinating locations than ever before, as we are adding historic new venues like Green-Wood Cemetery and Brooklyn Army Terminal to our impressive mainstay locations like the roofs of The William Vale Hotel, New Design High School, and The Old American Can Factory. It’s going to be a memorable summer.”
Rooftop always tries to pair each film with a venue specifically chosen to augment the experience of that movie and this year we will take advantage of the unique atmosphere of one of our newest venues: the historic Green-Wood Cemetery. Two films set in the 19th Century will screen in the fitting setting of the Green-Wood grounds: David and Nathan Zellner’s hilariously twisted western Damsel, and Madeleine Olnek’s Wild Nights with Emily, a comic re-telling of the life of Emily Dickinson. Green-Wood will also host a night of Gotham-based documentaries: our annual “New York Non-Fiction” short film. Green-Wood Cemetery will provide a poignant backdrop for our screening of Cameron Mullenneaux’s Exit Music, a moving film that intimately captures the final days of a young man with cystic fibrosis. Additionally, Rooftop will present a special community screening of Jim McKay’s En el Séptimo Día at Brooklyn Army Terminal, right in the center of the Sunset Park community where it was shot.
As always, the Summer Series brings the triumphant return of several Rooftop Filmmakers’ Fund Grantees. In addition to Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher, returning grantees include Rooftop Films TCS Grant recipient Khalik Allah, who will screen his intimate and immersive documentary Black Mother, Robert Greene with a special screening of Rooftop Films Garbo grantee Bisbee ’17; and Rooftop Films Eastern Effects grantee Christina Choe, who brings her enigmatic and cerebral character study Nancy to the Summer Series.
Venues this year include Green-Wood Cemetery in Greenwood Heights, The William Vale in Williamsburg, The Old American Can Factory in Gowanus, Industry City and Brooklyn Army Terminal in Sunset Park, MetroTech Commons in Downtown Brooklyn, New Design High School in the Lower East Side, and Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City.
ROOFTOP FILMS 2018 SUMMER SERIES
EARLY SUMMER EVENTS
Saturday, May 19, 2018
Opening Night: This is What We Mean by Short Films
At Green-Wood Cemetery. 500 25th Street. Brooklyn.
For 22 years, Rooftop Films has kicked off our Summer Series with an explosive program of amazing new short films from all over the world–films that express the power of new beginnings, highly entertaining films that tear apart tired old structures and display the creative potential of the cinematic form. This year’s opening program will include Rooftop Filmmakers Fund grantee Niki Lindroth Von Bahr’s award-winning short film, The Burden, a darkly comical musical that reminds us that every apocalypse can also be a tempting liberator. After the screening, we’ll keep the celebration going at the after-party in Green-Wood Cemetery! More titles to be announced soon.
*Featuring live music from L’Rain
Wednesday, May 30, 2018
American Animals (Bart Layton)
On the roof of The William Vale. 111 N 12th Street. Brooklyn.
The unbelievable but true story of four young men who brazenly attempt to execute one of the most audacious art heists in US history. Determined to live lives that are out of the ordinary, they formulate a daring plan for the perfect robbery, only to discover that the plan has taken on a life of its own. An Orchard release.
*Filmmaker Bart Layton in attendance
Thursday, May 31, 2018
Nancy (Christina Choe)
At MetroTech Commons. 5 MetroTech Center. Brooklyn.
Nancy is a provocative psychological thriller about love, intimacy, and trust – and what happens when lies become truth. Craving connection with others, Nancy creates elaborate identities and hoaxes under pseudonyms on the internet. When she meets a couple whose daughter went missing thirty years ago, fact and fiction begin to blur in Nancy’s mind, and she becomes increasingly convinced these strangers are her real parents. As their bond deepens, reasonable doubts give way to willful belief – and the power of emotion threatens to overcome all rationality. A Samuel Goldwyn Films release.
*Filmmaker Christina Choe in attendance
*Free Event. No Tickets Needed
*Recipient of the 2014 Rooftop Films and Eastern Effects Equipment Grant
Saturday, June 2, 2018
Damsel (David Zellner, Nathan Zellner)
In Green-Wood Cemetery. 500 25th Street. Brooklyn.
An affectionate reinvention of the western genre that showcases the Zellners’ trademark unpredictability, off-kilter sense of humor and unique brand of humanism, Damsel follows an affluent pioneer Samuel Alabaster (Pattinson) as he ventures across the American Frontier to find and marry the love of his life, Penelope (Wasikowska). As Samuel traverses the Wild West with a drunkard named Parson Henry (David Zellner) and a miniature horse called Butterscotch, their once-simple journey grows treacherous, increasingly blurring the lines between hero, villain and damsel. A Magnolia Pictures release.
Saturday, June 30, 2018
New York Non-Fiction
At Green-Wood Cemetery. 500 25th Street. Brooklyn.
One of Rooftop’s oldest traditions is our New York Non Fiction program, an annual collection of fantastic new short documentaries made by and about New Yorkers. These films aren’t about celebrities and tabloid scandals—these are the fascinating tales of the people you see every day on the train, at the bodega, in the gym, and at school. There are 8 million amazing stories in NYC, and on June 30th we will share a few of them with you. Titles to be announced soon.
A Prayer Before Dawn (Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire)
The remarkable true story of Billy Moore, a young English boxer incarcerated in two of Thailand’s most notorious prisons. He is quickly thrown into a terrifying world of drugs and gang violence, but when the prison authorities allow him to take part in the Muay Thai boxing tournaments, he realizes that this might be his chance to get out. Billy embarks on a relentless, action-packed journey from one savage fight to the next, stopping at nothing to do whatever he must to preserve his life and regain his freedom. Shot in an actual Thai prison with a cast of primarily real inmates, A Prayer Before Dawn is a visceral, thrilling journey through an unforgettable hell on earth. An A24 release.
An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn (Jim Hosking)
Lulu Danger’s unsatisfying marriage takes a fortunate turn for the worse when a mysterious man from her past comes to town to perform an event called “An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn for One Magical Night Only.” A Universal Content Group release.
Bisbee ’17 (Robert Greene)
Bisbee ’17 will follow characters in Bisbee, Arizona as they struggle to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the controversial Bisbee Deportation, where 1200 striking miners were violently exiled from town. The film will combine observational documentary with uncanny reenactments, leading up to a centennial dramatization of Bisbee’s “darkest day.”
*Co-presented with BAMcinemaFest
*Recipient of the 2016 Rooftop Films and Garbo NYC Feature Films Grant
Black Mother (Khalik Allah)
Part film, part baptism, in Black Mother director Khalik Allah brings us on a spiritual odyssey through Jamaica. Soaking up its bustling metropolises and tranquil countryside, Allah introduces us to a succession of vividly rendered souls who call this island home. Their candid testimonies create a polyphonic symphony, set against a visual prayer of indelible portraiture.
*Recipient of the 2015 Rooftop Films and Technological Cinevideo Services Camera Grant.
Blindspotting (Carlos López Estrada)
Collin (Daveed Diggs) must make it through his final three days of probation for a chance at a new beginning. He and his troublemaking childhood best friend, Miles (Rafael Casal), work as movers, and when Collin witnesses a police shooting, the two men’s friendship is tested as they grapple with identity and their changed realities in the rapidly-gentrifying neighborhood they grew up in. Longtime friends and collaborators, Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal co-wrote and star in this timely and wildly entertaining story about friendship and the intersection of race and class set against the backdrop of Oakland. Bursting with energy, style, and humor, and infused with the spirit of rap, hip hop, and spoken word, Blindspotting, boldly directed by Carlos López Estrada in his feature film debut, is a provocative hometown love letter that glistens with humanity. A Summit Entertainment presentation, in association with Codeblack Films and Snoot Entertainment.
The Breaker Upperers (Jackie van Beek, Madeleine Sami)
Fifteen years ago, Mel (Madeleine Sami) and Jen (Jackie van Beek) discovered they were being two-timed by the same man. Bitter and cynical they became fast friends and formed The Breaker Upperers, a small-time business breaking up couples for cash. Now they’re in their late-thirties and business is booming. They’re a platonic, codependent couple who keep their cynicism alive by not getting emotionally involved with anybody else. But when they run into an old victim, Mel develops a conscience and their friendship is truly put to the test. Executive Produced by Taika Waititi (director of Hunt For the Wilder People and Thor: Ragnarok).
Dead Pigs (Cathy Yan)
The lives of a bumbling pig farmer, a feisty salon owner, a sensitive busboy, an ambitious expat-architect and a disenchanted rich girl converge and collide as thousands of dead pigs float down the river toward a rapidly modernizing Shanghai, China. Based on true events.
En el Séptimo Día (Jim McKay)
En el Séptimo Día (On the Seventh Day) is a fiction feature from director Jim McKay (Girls Town, Our Song, Everyday People) which follows a group of undocumented immigrants living in Sunset Park, Brooklyn over the course of seven days. Bicycle delivery guys, construction workers, dishwashers, deli workers, and cotton candy vendors, they work long hours six days a week and then savor their day of rest on Sundays on the soccer fields of Sunset Park. José, a bicycle delivery worker, is the team’s captain – young, talented, hardworking and responsible. When José’s team makes it to the finals, he and his teammates are thrilled. But his boss throws a wrench into the celebration when he tells José he has to work on Sunday, the day of the finals. José tries to reason with his boss or replace himself, but his efforts fail. If he doesn’t work on Sunday, his job and his future will be on the line. But if he doesn’t stand up for himself and his teammates, his dignity will be crushed. Shot in the neighborhoods of Sunset Park, Park Slope, and Gowanus, En el Séptimo Día is a humane, sensitive, and humorous window into a world rarely seen. The film’s impact is made quietly, with restraint and respect for the individual experiences, everyday challenges, and small triumphs of its characters. A Cinema Guild release.
Exit Music (Cameron Mullenneaux)
Born with cystic fibrosis, 28-year-old Ethan Rice has been preparing to die his entire life. His father Ed, a Vietnam veteran with PTSD, immersed him in a world of imagination and documented it on camera, a hobby that provided relief from the fear of his son’s prognosis and his own painful past. Equal parts comedy and darkness, Exit Music is the last year, last breath, and final creative act of Ethan as he awaits the inevitable. Interweaving home movies with Ethan’s original music and animation, his story is an unflinching meditation on mortality and invites the viewer to experience Ethan’s transition from reality to memory. In a culture that often looks away from death, this film demystifies the dying process, a universal cornerstone of the human experience.
Family (Laura Steinel)
Kate Stone’s a workaholic. She hates kids. She hates most social situations, because she doesn’t know what to do with her arms. So when her estranged brother Joe tracks her down to watch her awkward and bullied 12 year old niece Maddie, Kate thinks babysitting for the week can’t get any worse — until Maddie runs away to become a juggalo.
The Gospel of Eureka (Michael Palmieri, Donal Mosher)
Love, faith and civil rights collide in a southern town as evangelical Christians and drag queens step into the spotlight to dismantle stereotypes. Taking a personal, and often comical look at negotiating differences between religion and belief through performance, political action, and partnership, gospel drag shows and passion plays set the stage for one hell of a show. Narrated by Mx Justin Vivian Bond.
*Co-presented with BAMcinemaFest
*Recipient of the 2017 Rooftop Films and Brigade Festival Publicity Grant
Hearts Beat Loud (Brett Haley)
In the hip Brooklyn neighborhood of Red Hook, single dad and record store owner Frank (Nick Offerman) is preparing to send his hard-working daughter Sam (Kiersey Clemons) off to college, while being forced to close his vintage shop. Hoping to stay connected through their shared musical passions, Frank urges Sam to turn their weekly “jam sesh” into a father-daughter live act. After their first song becomes an Internet breakout, the two embark on a journey of love, growing up and musical discovery. A GUNPOWDER & SKY release.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post (Desiree Akhavan)
Cameron Post (Chloë Grace Moretz) looks the part of a perfect high school girl. But after she’s caught with another girl in the back seat of a car on prom night, Cameron is quickly shipped off to a conversion therapy center that treats teens “struggling with same-sex attraction.” At the facility, Cameron is subjected to outlandish discipline, dubious “de-gaying” methods, and earnest Christian rock songs—but this unusual setting also provides her with an unlikely gay community. For the first time, Cameron connects with peers, and she’s able to find her place among fellow outcasts. A FilmRise release.
Never Goin’ Back (Augustine Frizzell)
A fresh and funny look at female friendship, following lifelong best friends Angela and Jessie, who dream of escaping their waitressing jobs at a low-rent Texas diner. Taking place over the course of just a few days, the film follows their hilarious and unpredictable misadventures on the streets of suburban Dallas, as they attempt increasingly madcap and wild schemes to try and raise some cash. An A24 release.
Our New President (Maxim Pozdorovkin)
The story of Donald Trump’s election told entirely through Russian propaganda. By turns horrifying and hilarious, the film is a satirical portrait of Russian meddling in the 2016 election that reveals an empire of fake news and the tactics of modern day information warfare. , In the small, central Polish town of Aleksandrów Kujawski, the director of the local culture centre announces a competition. The theme… a creative presentation of your personal patriotic attitude. Entrants are free to demonstrate their creativity in whatever form they like; in song, recitation or gesture, by giving a speech or staging their piece. Anything goes. There’s just one requirement; entrants may only present their own, original work. The eleventh day of the eleventh month arrives… Poland’s Independence Day. And on this very day, the jury, consisting of the director, the mayor, a priest and a local poetess, will select the region’s number one patriot.
Pick of the Litter (Dana Nachman, Don Hardy Jr.)
Pick of the Litter follows a litter of puppies from the moment they’re born and begin their quest to become guide dogs for the blind. Cameras follow these pups through an intense two-year odyssey as they train to become dogs whose ultimate responsibility is to protect their blind partners from harm. Along the way, these remarkable animals rely on a community of dedicated individuals who train them to do amazing, life-changing things in the service of their human. The stakes are high and not every dog can make the cut. Only the best of the best. The pick of the litter. Courtesy of Sundance Selects.
Shirkers (Sandi Tan)
In 1992, teenage VHS-bootlegger Sandi Tan and her fellow film-geek pals Jasmine Ng and Sophie Siddique shot Singapore’s first road movie with their enigmatic American mentor, Georges. It was called “Shirkers.” Sandi wrote the script and played the lead, S, a 16-year-old assassin collecting and then eliminating her own tribe. After shooting wrapped, Georges absconded with all of the footage…The 16mm Kodak cans are recovered 20 years later, sending Sandi, now a novelist in Los Angeles, on a personal, singular odyssey across two continents in search of Georges’ vanishing footprints—and her own.
Skate Kitchen (Crystal Moselle)
In the first narrative feature from The Wolfpack director Crystal Moselle, Camille, an introverted teenage skateboarder (newcomer Rachelle Vinberg) from Long Island, meets and befriends an all-girl, New York City-based skateboarding crew called Skate Kitchen. She falls in with the in-crowd, has a falling-out with her mother, and falls for a mysterious skateboarder guy (Jaden Smith), but a relationship with him proves to be trickier to navigate than a kickflip. Writer/director Crystal Moselle immersed herself in the lives of the skater girls and worked closely with them, resulting in the film’s authenticity, which combines poetic, atmospheric filmmaking and hypnotic skating sequences. Skate Kitchen precisely captures the experience of women in male-dominated spaces and tells a story of a girl who learns the importance of camaraderie and self-discovery. A Magnolia Pictures release.
This One’s for the Ladies (Gene Graham)
On Thursday evenings, a children’s karate school transforms into a male strip joint. Hundreds of women convene for a potluck fundraiser and the opportunity to throw singles at the hot New Jersey Nasty Boyz. This One’s for the Ladies isn’t just about the tips or the dancing. It’s a heartwarming story about friendship, community, these incredible women, and the resilience they show toward whatever comes their way. A NEON release.
Unlovable (Suzi Yoonessi)
Joy (Charlene deGuzman,) a 20-something lost soul, realizes she has a problem and seeks help at a 12-step meeting for sex and love addiction. There she meets Maddie (Melissa Leo), who becomes her sponsor. Maddie allows Joy to stay at her grandmother’s guesthouse if she agrees to go 30 days off boys, sex, and romance. Joy struggles to get sober and Maddie suggests she find a hobby. Joy finds a drum kit in the garage and meets Jim (John Hawkes), Maddie’s clinically awkward brother. Joy and Jim create music together, and a secret friendship develops. Joy teaches Jim to take risks with his music and his heart, and Jim shows Joy that she can have a healthy relationship with a man as a friend.
We The Animals (Jeremiah Zagar)
Us three. Us brothers. Us kings, inseparable. Three boys tear through their rural New York home town, in the midst of their young parents’ volatile love that makes and unmakes the family many times over. While Manny and Joel grow into versions of their loving and unpredictable father, Ma seeks to keep her youngest, Jonah, in the cocoon of home. More sensitive and conscious than his older siblings, Jonah increasingly embraces an imagined world all his own. With a screenplay by Dan Kitrosser and Jeremiah Zagar based on the celebrated Justin Torres novel, We the Animals is a visceral coming-of-age story propelled by layered performances from its astounding cast – including three talented, young first-time actors – and stunning animated sequences which bring Jonah’s torn inner world to life. Drawing from his documentary background, director Jeremiah Zagar creates an immersive portrait of working class family life and brotherhood. An Orchard release.
Wild Nights with Emily (Madeleine Olnek)
Fresh off its SXSW premiere, the dramatic comedy Wild Nights with Emily stars Molly Shannon as the poet Emily Dickinson. The film was inspired by an article in the New York Times that documented how infrared technologies restored erasures that hid romantic content in Dickinson’s letters. The poet’s persona, popularized since her death, was that of a reclusive spinster – a delicate wallflower, too sensitive for this world. This film explores her passionate, vivacious side that was covered up for years — most notably Emily’s lifelong romantic relationship with another woman (Susan Ziegler). After Emily died, a rivalry emerged when her brother’s mistress (Amy Seimetz) along with editor T.W. Higginson (Brett Gelman) published a book of Emily’s poems. Irreverent and surreal, Wild Nights was one of “The 50 Most Anticipated American Independent Films of 2018″(Filmmaker Magazine); you will never look at Dickinson the same way again.
Wrestle (Suzannah Herbert, co-directed by Lauren Belfer)
Wrestle is an intimate and nuanced documentary that follows the wrestling team at JO Johnson High School in Huntsville, which has been on Alabama’s failing schools list for many years. As they fight their way towards the State Championship and the doors they hope it will open, wrestlers Jailen, Jamario, Teague, and Jaquan each face injustices and challenges on and off the mat. Together they grapple with obstacles that jeopardize their success, and their coach – coming to terms with his own past conflicts – pushes them forward while unwittingly wading into the complexities of class and race in the South. Through it all, the young heroes of Wrestle – with humor and grit – strive towards their goals, making Wrestle an inspiring coming of age journey and an impassioned depiction of growing up disadvantaged in America today.