Circus Shorts: Clowns & Roller Coasters
Chickens, magicians, carnies and Coney Island.

We were prepared to do this show in the rain, but not in 40mph hurricane winds. Our tents and screen would blow away. The show will be rescheduled for a later date. As with the previous rain-out, we will keep a list at the door of this show's ticket buyers at all remaining shows. These tickets may be used for any upcomoing shows (occurring every weekend from now through September 22). If there is a problem, please contact our intern, Elisabeth Stenger, and explain the situation, el at rooftopfilms dot com and we do hope to see you soon!

Saturday, Setpember 2nd, 2006
8:30 - Live Live performances from the NY Clown Theater Festival (click for details)
9:00 - Showtime
TRT: 1:30:00

On the lawn at Open Road Park | DIRECTIONS
E. 12th Street between 1st Avenue & Avenue A

Clowns & Roller Coasters
For adults, there is something inherently nostalgic in the circus. For children, there is something inherently sinister. Little kids see the clowns and sword-swallowers, the jugglers and freaks, and perceive that these are adults trying to recapture some sense of magic in the world. At times, that pursuit is innocent and rewarding enough (Suburban Home), but at other times it does indeed indicate desperation, the last hope of a life-long outsider (Do You Want the Elephant Music?). Either way, a little kid knows that a very unique pathos is at work, which in its very fleeting nature will either enchant or terrify.

As adults, we see in the costumes, carnivals and controlled chaos the lost mysteries of childhood. Our desire to relive youthful awe and wonder forges an intensity to our memories—foggy and fantastical as they may be—which leads us to put great importance on unexplained minutia, fleeting feelings, and hope. The circus—carnivals, clowns and roller coasters—has this power. This program of short films bridges youth and old age, the fantastic and the filthy, daily routines and dream worlds. Ladies and gentlemen, step right up.

Great America (AKA The Black Hole, 1982)
(Mark W. Read | Brooklyn, NY | 4:28)

A pseudo home movie in which the filmmaker recounts a magical day from his youth when, while on a carnival ride, he witnessed, for a fleeting instant, a man doing the impossible. The simple look and structure of the film belie the subtle textures of the story, a mix of nostalgic Americana, religious iconography, and the pre-figuring of certain contemporary fears.

Moonshot (Meesoo Lee | Vancouver, BC | 4:00)
Using slight variations in exposure, Rooftop veteran Meesoo Lee syncs a lovely shot of the swing ride to a tune by Luna to create a poignant music video.

Lucky Dip (Emily Skinner | London, England | 3:00)
In this ultimately heartwarming animation, a little girl strays from her banal parents, attracted to seedy game palace on the edge of the boardwalk, where danger lurks behind the corrupt machines.

Suburban Home (Nick Gibbon | Glasgow, Scotland | 10:00)
When a bored little girl can't put up with the meanness and minor misery of her neighborhood, she seeks refuge with a doting old man. This is a sweet and melancholy film about the loss of childhood imagination and magic.

Bek (Lucette Braune | Utrecht, The Netherlands | 12:00)
In this gritty and magical animation, a little girl with a beak, born to a bird-hating father, finds a home in the circus, where she struggles to be laughed with, not at.

Klovnebarna (The Clown Children)
(Jannicke Systad Jacobson & Karin Beate Nosterud | Norway & Guatemala | 6:00)

Everyone knows that not all clowns are happy, but it's hard to tell with these dirty-faced kids in the streets of Guatemala, juggling and dancing amidst the dense traffic in the hopes of gathering some small change. There's clearly an underlying sadness to them, but this lovely, wordless documentary also reveals a heartbreaking hopefulness.

Erni (Edgar Honetschlager | Vienna, Austria | 7:00)
In this fantastically photographed bit of extravagant surrealism, a little Japanese boy moving through grand European locales communicates telepathically with chicken who wears pants ("because they look good").

Do You Want the Elephant Music?
(Leslie Dektor | Johannesburg, South Africa | 17:00)

It's hard to say whether the circus attracts a certain type of melancholy oddballs, or if circus life wears down the artists to the point of isolated exhaustion, but this gorgeously photographed documentary introduces us to the real people who work so hard to hypnotize and repulse us.

Not Just an Ugly Face (Raj Yagnik | Egremont, UK | 10:06)
We in America may not know too much about the art of gurning, but its a big deal in Egremont, where once a year dozens of people compete in the decades-old tradition of making the ugliest face possible. Women who swallow their lips, men who turn their noses inside out—you really won't believe how cartoonishly ugly these ordinary folks make themselves look.

Cat Goes Splat (zZalgernon | Glendale, CA | 8:00)
The Polka King and Queen have a dream of uniting the world through heavily sequined costumes, colorful wigs, and an avant-garde interpretation of an obscure Eastern European musical form. And that's the least crazy of their stories.

Circus (Moira Tierney | Brooklyn, NY | 3:00)
Hot grainy tightrope walkers, Chinese acrobats, Russian human towers and an inverted Wall of Death.

Under the Roller Coaster (Lila Place | Brooklyn, NY | 15:00)
One can perhaps imagine, here under the High Line, the rumble of a train above. But can you imagine living under Coney Island's legendary Thuderbolt Roller Coaster? Mae Timpano lived there for years, as shown in this funny and nostalgic documentary about the glories of a carny life.

Sky Starts Falling (Doves music video)
(Reuben Sutherland | London, UK | 5:00)

The war machines of old are put to dazzling use as a magnificent maestro conducts fleets of bi-planes, dirigibles and flying tea cups in this absolutely gorgeous music video.

The NY Clown Theater Festival presents a 1/2 hour of highlights from the festival hosted by Red Bastard (New York's King of Fools!), a grotesque, yet disarmingly charming Bouffon, whose enormous ego is matched only by his colossal red ass. The Brick Theater brings in the clowns for the jam-packed, three-week New York Theater Clown Festival in Williamsburg. The festivities kick off with a parade—complete with marching band and, naturally, clowns—and a free-for-all pie fight. Featuring 16 mainstage shows from UK, Germany, Canada all over the US.

Click here to read more about the festival.