Fiction Feature
$10 online or at the door
Thursday Jul 15, 2010
8:00Doors Open
8:30Live Music by Fall on Your Sword
9:00Film Begins
10:30Filmmaker Q and A
11:30After Party with FREE Radeberger Pilsner at Fontana's (105 Eldridge St.)
***Restrictions: No refunds ~ Seating is first come, first served. Physical seats are limited. This means you may not get a chair. You are welcome to bring a blanket and sit picnic-style, but no alcohol is permitted.
In the event of rain, the screening will be held indoors at the same location.

The roof of New Design High School (formerly Open Road)
Lower East Side
350 Grand Street, New York, NY 10002
F, J, M, Z to Delancey Street-Essex Street; B, D, Q to Grand Street


Sneak Preview as part of a birthday celebration for indieWIRE, SnagFilms and Rooftop! Open Bar after party following the screening.

Rooftop Films, indieWIRE and Snag Films are pleased to present this special sneak preview as a joint celebration of our birthdays. Three New York City organizations committed to supporting independent cinema, all born around the same time, we have grown up together as a vital part of the independent film scene in New York and around the world.

Since July 1996, indieWIRE has been covering the business and art of indie film, becoming a mainstay in the global press and providing a crucial critical voice. Since July 1997, Rooftop Films has been attracting thousands of viewers to unique outdoor screenings of movies that would otherwise go unseen, and supporting independent filmmakers through grants, partnerships, services and education. Since July 2008, Snag Films has been finding the world's most compelling documentaries and making them available to audiences world wide for free via the web, allowing other websites to easily "snag" a film and post it elsewhere.

In July 2010, Rooftop, indieWIRE and Snag will jointly celebrate our birthdays, and the independent film scene we care so much about. This screening of Aardvark, the debut feature by Kitao Sakurai, represents so much of what the three organizations stand for: discovering emerging directors, supporting independent filmmakers, bringing new unseen films to audiences, building a community around cinema, and, of course, hosting great events. This unique event showcases Aardvark prior to its official US and international festival premieres.

"Our organizations are all dedicated to giving exposure to exceptional independent films," said Mark Elijah Rosenberg, Founder and Artistic Director of Rooftop Films. "Aardvark is the perfect film to celebrate this collective goal. Sakurai is a first-time filmmaker with a strong, distinctive vision who has crafted a thriller that transcends genre. Combining a tight plot with a disquieting mood, the film is suffused with a raw emotional power that immerses viewers in the psyche of a fascinating and wholly unique protagonist."

The event will be held on top of the gorgeously gritty Open Road Rooftop, in the Lower East Side. Before the movie, there will be live music by the film's composer, Fall On Your Sword. After the screening, we will have a Q&A with Kitao Sakurai, and an after-party with free drinks courtesy of Radeberger Pilsner.


Aardvark is the first feature film from the creative partnership of Kitao Sakurai and Andrew Barchilon, who founded the New York based production company Naked Faces.

KITAO SAKURAI (Aardvark writer-director)
Kitao Sakurai was born in Kinugasa Japan in 1983, the son of a baroque lute soloist. Growing up in Cleveland Ohio, Sakurai began his career as a child actor (Kevin Smith's "Dogma") and short filmmaker, allowing him to participate in numerous international film festivals while still in high school. Dropping out of college at the age of 18 and moving to New York City, Sakurai worked in opera staging and set design before turning his focus to cinematography, which is his primary focus to this day. Most recently as a cinematographer, Sakurai photographed the Gotham Award winning feature "You Wont Miss Me" directed by Ry Russo-Young, which premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. Aardvark is Sakurai's debut feature film as writer-director.

The leading news, information, and networking site for independent-minded filmmakers, the industry and moviegoers alike, indieWIRE launched on July 15, 1996 and re-launched with a bold new approach on January 12, 2009. Winner of the Webby Award for best film website, indieWIRE was lauded as a "must read" by Variety, branded the "online heartbeat of the world's independent film community" by Forbes, and dubbed "best indie crossroads" by film critic Roger Ebert.

Twelve years after launching indieWIRE, company founders sold the company to SnagFilms, the new company founded by Ted Leonsis and backed by Steve Case and Miles Gilburne.
indieWIRE Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder Eugene Hernandez noted in a letter to readers at the time, "We created indieWIRE twelve years ago to fill a gap for filmmakers and the industry. The concept was to create a platform to deliver news, information and other resources. Along the way, indieWIRE emerged as a hub for the community."

SnagFilms features free ad-supported viewing of more than 1,500 award-winning titles from some of the greatest names in documentary film production and distribution. All films are fully shareable anywhere on the web, and since its launch in July 2008, SnagFilms' library has been featured on over 2 billion web pageviews, via more than 80,000 web pages, including throughout the AOL channels, and the websites of The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, IMDb, the Miami Herald and Politico, hundreds of non-profits, special interest sites and blogs, and thousands of social network pages. OVGuide has twice named SnagFilms a Top Site and MovieMaker Magazine named SnagFilms to its annual list of "50 Best Websites for Moviemakers." SnagFilms also includes indieWIRE, for more than 13 years the web's top source of news, reviews and information about independent film.

The company was founded by digital entrepreneur, documentary film producer, professional sports teams' owner and philanthropist Ted Leonsis, and is additionally backed by AOL co-founder and Revolution LLC Chairman, Steve Case; philanthropist and former digital executive Jean Case; operating executive and philanthropic venture capitalist Miles Gilburne; a group led by Ted and Jim Pedas, founders of Circle Films; and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

If you're a filmmaker, producer, or a distributor with documentaries in need of distribution, please reach out to submissions@snagfilms.com


Aardvark (Kitao Sakurai | USA - Argentina | 80 min.)
AARDVARK is perhaps the first fiction film to star a man blind since birth. In a role inspired by his own life, Larry Lewis plays a solitary man recovering from alcoholism and working towards stability. When he joins a Jiu Jitsu academy he finds a close friend in his young hard-partying instructor, Darren. But, as disturbing aspects of Darren's life are revealed Larry soon finds himself alone and faced with the consequences of a horrific act of violence.

Rooftop, indieWIRE and Snag Films chose AARDVARK as the perfect film to celebrate our collective goals. Sakurai is a first-time filmmaker with a strong, distinctive vision who has crafted a thriller that transcends genre. Combining a tight plot with a disquieting mood, the film is suffused with a raw emotional power that immerses viewers in the psyche of a fascinating and wholly unique protagonist.

Visually, Sakurai, a noted cinematographer, has developed a new look for noir, not so much black and dark as muted, obscured--both joy and anguish are often hidden behind hands, mirrors, doorways, grappling bodies (but not, notably, the dark glasses of the blind). The compositions externalize the relative irrelevance of the visual world for the blind protagonist. The most joyful scene in the film is set in the murky gloom of a car in a parking lot; some of the most emotionally negative moments are highlighted with bright neon that casts a tawdry, shadowless glow. This is a world where "normal" values are inverted, where the law is a menace and justice is questionable, where transcendence comes through pain.

AARDVARK is taut, frightening, and dramatic, with a cast of characters that spring to life with dynamic hard-boiled performances. But the film goes beyond the traditional thriller, carefully addressing complex ethical issues. Larry and Darren aspire to a life of discipline and discuss a code of Jiu Jitsu ideals that incorporates the control over anger and evil in order to live a life of justice and compassion. But when the most fundamental laws of life are upset, how does our code of values change? The film asks us if there is a view, a set of morals, that can withstand the worst in humanity.

There will be no clear answer.

- Mark Elijah Rosenberg

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Rooftop Films is a New York based non-profit whose mission is to engage diverse communities by showing independent movies in outdoor locations, producing new films, coordinating youth media education, and renting equipment at low cost to artists.

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