2018 Summer Series submissions will open in September of 2017. Check back for more information.
The Summer Series
The annual Rooftop Films Summer Series runs from May through August and features more than 150 daring new films, all screened outdoors, to loyal audiences in venues across NYC including rooftops, parks, and other scenic spots. More than 46,000 people attend Rooftop screenings, making it one of the most popular festivals in New York City and one of the biggest festivals for underground films in the world.
Submitting to Rooftop Films
At Rooftop we believe that the role of a festival is to help filmmakers bring their work to as large and diverse an audience as possible, not to profit off of their ambition. That is why we keep our submission fees low. Plus, if you submit a work to Rooftop you automatically get 2 free tickets ($30 value) to any one Rooftop Summer Series show, whether or not we are able to screen your film. And a struggling filmmaker need never despair: no film will ever be turned away due to lack of funds. To request a fee waiver contact us at submit * at * rooftopfilms * dot * com.
Since 1997, Rooftop Films has been committed to providing a venue, an audience, and a community for the wide array of short and feature length films that are underserved by conventional exhibition means. We screen narrative, hybrid and documentary films that are daring and unique, including comedies, dramas, experimental, animation, political films, and found footage. We want films that tell us about where and how you live, with original ideas (regardless of production values). We screen the work of experienced professionals, long-time amateurs and first-time filmmakers alike. We strongly encourage submissions by women, minorities, and people of color.
Curating our Programs
Each year we receive thousands of submissions that are all watched and appraised by our programming staff. We believe that a film festival has a responsibility to present films in exciting and innovative ways. Our unique venues and exhibition style enables Rooftop to reach wide audiences and maximize the impact of the films. This is, of course, why we choose to show films outdoors. A film framed by the city skyline becomes more than just a film, it becomes part of the neighborhood. We try to match films to venues; we’ll seek out idyllic spots along a canal for a romantic film, or mount a screening of a documentary about industry atop the roof of a 100-year-old factory. The result is that the films take on new meanings in these unique environments and nuances come to the fore, making a lasting impression.
THE ROOFTOP FILMMAKERS FUND
At our annual Summer Series, Rooftop Films sets aside $1 from every ticket sold and every submission fee received and gives it to alumni filmmakers in the form of grants for their film productions. We also grant additional cash and service grants courtesy of our sponsors.
Only filmmakers who have screened a movie at Rooftop Films are eligible for grants.
Unlike festivals which give away awards for filmmakers’ past work, the Rooftop Filmmakers Fund is an opportunity to help deserving filmmakers make their next movie. Past grantees have included Kitty Green’s Casting JonBenet, Gillian Robespierre’s Obvious Child, Jonas Carpignano’s Mediterranea, Ana Lily Amirpour’s The Bad Batch, David Lowery’s Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Benh Zeitlin’s and Glory at Sea, Lucy Walker’s The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom, and dozens more.
The 2016 Rooftop Filmmaker Fund Grantees
Rooftop Films and Garbo NYC Feature Films Grantees
Robert Greene | Bisbee ’17
Bisbee ’17 will follow multiple characters in Bisbee, Arizona as they work 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 musical reenactments, leading up to a centennial dramatization of Bisbee’s “darkest day.”
Kirsten Johnson | Deadpan
Dick Johnson, an 84 year old psychiatrist is simply going about his business, when his car crashes, he gets hit by an avalanche, he has a heart attack, a bookshelf falls on him, and a wave washes him out to sea. But although his spectacular deaths keep happening, nothing keeps him down. Until it does. Stuntmen risk their lives to insure spectacular death after hilarious death as Dick Johnson tries to stay alive until the end of his days.
Rooftop Films and Brigade Festival Publicity Grantee
Joshua Z Weinstein | Menashe
Within Brooklyn’s ultra-orthodox Jewish community, a widower battles for custody of his son. A tender drama performed entirely in Yiddish, the film intimately explores the nature of faith and the price of parenthood.
Rooftop Films and Sound Lounge Sound Mix Feature Film Grantee
Sara Dosa | The Road Through Invisible
An unexpected environmental film about invisible elves, financial collapse and the power of belief told through one Icelandic family’s quest to save a threatened landscape – and the beloved home they’ve lived in for generations.
Rooftop Films and Nice Shoes Color Correction Grantee
Yoni Brook and N.D. Austin | The Experience Designer
An abandoned bridge in Sao Paulo. An illegal party in New York City. A mysterious island in Alaska. These places connect the work of N.D. Austin, a transgressive experience designer, who confronts his past in this unconventional non-fiction film.
Rooftop Films and Eastern Effects Equipment Grantee
Reinaldo Marcus Green | Monsters and Men
Monsters and Men is an interwoven narrative about police violence, racial profiling and the power of perspective. Set in Bed Stuy Brooklyn, the story is told in three chapters, each from a new protagonist’s point of view: the neighborhood street hustler, a police officer, and an all-star teenage athlete. We follow the unspooling narrative as each person is impacted by the fallout from a violent episode of police brutality.
Rooftop Films Technological Cinevideo Services Camera Grant
Ja’Tovia Gary | The Evidence of Things Not Seen
The Evidence of Things Not Seen is a portrait of one woman’s effort to transcend the trauma of her history. The filmmaker embarks on an intimate journey to explore the relationships with the people closest to her as well as the situations and events which helped to shape her. From tense meetings with former lovers and estranged siblings to intimate and revealing therapy sessions we learn about the healthy and not so healthy ways in which she attempts to cope. A compelling and non-traditional confessional, the film reveals a glimpse into the life of a woman on a journey to confront the emotional issues that plague her. The film provides a personal look at a woman determined to redefine herself under tenuous circumstances.
Rooftop Films and Edgeworx Post-Production Grant
Petra Costa | Impeachment
With the impeachment of Brazil’s first female president Dilma Rousseff, the nation is cracked open – embroiled in an epic political tragedy of corruption and betrayal. By intimately depicting the realpolitik on-screen, Impeachment elucidates the chaos of collapse, closely following the President and other key players involved in this urgent political crisis as it unfolds within the heart of Latin America’s biggest economy.
Rooftop Films / DCTV Equipment and Services Feature and Short Film Grantees
St. John McKay | Suicide Mondays
On Saturday, the 9th of January, the filmmaker decided to finally kill himself. On Sunday, the 10th of January, he figured out how he was going to do it. On Monday, the 11th of January, he was going to jump off a bridge onto the little island where he lost his virginity. This documentary is about that weekend.
Alexa Lim Haas | Agua Viva
Interacting physically and intimately with strangers all day, a manicurist in Miami attempts to communicate unsaid words and unexplored feelings through a language she cannot speak. Woven with imagined sensations, daily curiosities, and phrases not fully understood, Agua Viva explores the observations of a woman longing to connect in a place she cannot express herself in.
Rooftop Films and Adrienne Shelly Foundation Short Film Grant For Women
Naima Ramos-Chapman | Piu Piu
A routine trip to the city turns into a surrealist nightmare when a restless young woman tries to escape the confines of romance in order to find herself.
Rooftop Filmmakers’ Fund Short Film Grant
Merete Mueller | The Blue Room
This experimental short documentary looks at the impact of bringing nature to the incarcerated individuals who are most removed from it.
John Wilson | The Road to Magnasanti
A simple guide on how to finish New York City.
Hilary Campbell | Uncle Jim
A young woman spends two weeks on the road with her Uncle Jim, a 63 year old bachelor and wine salesman from California.
Rooftop Films and Kayla Thomas Filmmaker Grantees
Laura Stewart | Welcome
Welcome is a short stop motion animation about making new friends.
Cara Cusumano | Shipwrecked