Rooftop Films

Rooftop Films

Rooftop Films is a non-profit film organization based in Gowanus, Brooklyn. They are best known for their Rooftop Films Summer Series, a screening series/film festival that runs from June through September every year and consists of as many as 47 outdoor screenings of new, independent short and feature-length films. The screenings all take place on rooftops or in other scenic outdoor locations throughout New York City, including the roof of the Old American Can Factory in Gowanus, Open Road Rooftop in the Lower East Side, the lawn at Automotive High School in Williamsburg, the roof of El Museo del Barrio, the roof of Westbeth Artists Community, Fort Greene Park, 210 Cook Street in Bushwick, Solar One on East 23rd Street, and many other spots across the city.

Founded by Mark Elijah Rosenberg in 1997, Rooftop moved in 1998 to the roof of Peter's Car Corp. a 10,000 square foot artists' loft and occasional event space located at 265 McKibbin Street. An all-volunteer staff that included Car Corp. residents Dan Nuxoll and Joshua Breitbart helped Rooftop expand from one screening a summer to more than 12 a summer by 2002. In 2003 Rooftop moved its offices and event space a few blocks down the street to Office Ops. The screening series went well but their relationship with Office Ops ended badly at the end of the summer when Office Ops violated many elements of the lease and contractual agreements that had been signed earlier that year.

What could have been a damaging setback turned out to be a blessing, as in winter 2004 Rooftop moved their offices to The Old American Can Factory in Gowanus Brooklyn. A gorgeous 19th century industrial complex with a huge roof and a peaceful view of Park Slope to the North, The Old American Factory has provided Rooftop with a permanent home base for their screenings and operations. Artistic Director Rosenberg and Program Director Nuxoll quit their other jobs to work for Rooftop Films full time and soon thereafter fellow Vassar alumnus Sarah Palmer joined on as Festival Director. In 2007 they were joined by Managing Director Genevieve DeLaurier. By 2006 Rooftop Rooftop was presenting more than 45 shows a summer all over New York City, including world premieres of feature films and many of the best new short films being produced anywhere in the world.

Rooftop screenings are more community events than standard festival screenings. Though Rooftop exclusively screens new independent films that have not yet gotten theatrical releases and which rarely feature stars or big name directors, the events are very well attended, with more than 20,000 people attending Rooftop shows each summer. Live music precedes every film screening, with many established and up and coming performers appearing each year. Some standouts include TV on the Radio, The Bravery, The Mountain Goats, members of Fugazi and Califone, Frances, Vic Thrill, Bruce Levingston, Dirty on Purpose, O'Death, and many others. Admission for almost all screenings is $9 or less and screenings are often followed by open bar after parties.

Though Rooftop does not present very many screenings outside of its Summer Series, it is operational year-round and has spearheaded a variety of other endeavors, including a Rooftop Filmmaker Fund that gives thousands of dollars of cash and further thousands in services to filmmakers whose work have shown as part of the Summer Series. They also organize filmmaker workshops for high school students, stream many of their best shorts online on, produce a TV show for the Manhattan Neighborhood Network, publish reviews and movie news on their [| blog] , and [| rent audio and video equipment] .

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