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Rooftop Films: See Underground Movies Outdoors

Jeremy Moran, Contributing Writer, July 29, 2015

Ahh, summer; the season to spend as much time outside before the air freezes up and the leaves turn brown. You can head to the beach, bike out in the sun, or simply sit outside getting lost in a book and drinking a coke. What you may not know is that you can also watch movies outside, thanks to the Rooftop Films film festival.

Since its founding by filmmaker Mark Elijah Rosenberg in 1997, Rooftop Films has been dedicated to screening obscure and well-known films in outdoor spaces in New York City. The films mostly screen in Brooklyn, though there are a few locations in Manhattan. According to the Rooftop Films’ website, the goal is to attract a big audience for smaller films that would not get much attention in conventional theaters. Rosenberg started building his audience by projecting films onto the roof of his small apartment. Over the next eighteen years, the festival expanded into a massive floating arts festival that showcased not just films, but musicians as well. Amazing venues were added, including the Brookfield Place in Manhattan and the beach of Coney Island.

This summer, the festival is showcasing a number of wonderful films including experimental shorts, animations, independent features, timeless studio classics, and cult movies. For the full list, please check the schedule at Many events are free so there is absolutely no excuse to not check these movies out.

Even though July is almost over, there are a few screenings coming up. This Saturday, Rooftop is screening a short film series called First Comes Love. As the title states, the films explore love, sex, romance across cultures, races, and ages. Go ahead and bring whoever you love to this and they’ll thank you for not making them go to Chili’s. The series also includes a performance from Bill Ricchini’s new musical project Summer Love. The films will screen on two rooftops at Industry City, Sunset Park. (Tickets can be bought here:

Then, next week, there are a series of free (Yes, FREE!) screenings, including a screening of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom at Coney Island (!!!) and a screening of animated short films at Waterfront Plaza at Brookfield Place.

The screenings continue all through August, with screenings of classics like Stop Making Sense screening at Waterfront Plaza on Saturday, August 1st (Again…FREE!), Guardians of the Galaxy screening at Coney Island on Monday, August 17 (Yet again…FREE!), and Big Hero Six at Coney Island on Monday, August 3rd (Do I have to say that this one is also FREE). There are also newer films that you may not have heard of but may blow you away: Finders Keepers on Saturday, August, 15th at Industry City, Krisha at The Bushwick Generator on Thursday, August 20, and Joe Swanberg’s new film Digging for Fire at Industry City on Thursday, August 18th.

There are even more screenings and events planned throughout August so check the schedule out here for more information: ( It is impossible to look at that schedule and find at least one screening that does not pique your interest. By going to Rooftop Films, you are also supporting local artists and keeping New York City’s filmmaking community alive.




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