Rooftop Films Celebrates its 15th Year

It’s hot and humid.  I’m looking for looser, lighter and less clothing, and a nap sounds really good right about now.  Summer in the City has arrived, and along with it, the annual phenomenon called Rooftop Films

Fifteen summers ago, Mark Rosenberg, fresh out of film school, needed a place to screen his student creations when he LOOKED UP.  He hung a large white sheet on the roof of his 14h Street tenement building and invited a bunch of people over.  This worked great until his landlord got wind of it and booted him out.

Rooftop films moved to Brooklyn and in time settled into The Old American Can Factory where they continue to screen films on the roof of this historic building alongside the Gowanus Canal.  This year, Rooftop Films has several venues, not all of them on rooftops, but all outdoors.  Two new roofs in the 2011 festival are the Brooklyn Grange Farm in Queens – one of Looking Up With Leslie’s favorite NYC roofs.  That happens on August 7 , and there are two screenings, one at 8 p.m. and the other at 10 p.m.  Brooklyn Tech hosted a film on its roof on May 26 and hopefully will host more in Rooftop Film’s 16th summer season.  In Manhattan, The Open Road rooftop (Lower East Side) is hosting a plethora of roof films on June 3, 4, 10, 11, 17, 19, 24 and 25, and more in July and August as well.

Open Road also had the honor of hosting the opening night of Season 15 on Friday, May 13, just a little before summer arrived.  A thousand people (my guess, who knows how many, but there were lots of us up there) happily bounded up many flights of stairs to a huge rooftop adorned with mural artwork and three strategically placed screens so everyone could have a good view of the short films that were the program that evening.  As terrific (and at times odd) as the movies were, the rooftop views of lower Manhattan were more than enough to make the evening truly worthwhile.

I will be LOOKING UP for you at additional screenings at Open Road, The Old American Can Factory and especially at Brooklyn Grange Farm this summer.

Next time I post, we’ll all go the YMCA – not the one in Chelsea made famous by the Village People, but the one on 105th and Amsterdam where something terrific is happening up on the roof.  Now, I think I’ll shut my eyes for just a few minutes…..

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