I love summer.  Not just because I grew up in  a perma-summer country, but because the days are longer, I get my tan back and summer is most probably the only time one can maximize rooftop usage: from sunsets to barbecues to movies.

One of my personal favorites is Rooftop Films.  The first time I got to attend one was last year, at a rooftop in South Slope/Gowanus.  I loved the idea:  DJ/ Live music, massive screen, warm breeze – all under the stars with the skyline as a backdrop.  Since then, I was hooked.

It was a pleasure to chat and get in-depth with Rooftop Film’s Outreach and Development Manager:  Alece Oxendine.

GP: Who, where and how did Rooftop Films start?  Who are the main founders?

Alece: Mark Elijah Rosenberg is the Founder and Artistic Director of Rooftop Films. Rooftop Films came into existence in July of 1997 atop a tenement apartment building on 14th Street in Manhattan. Filmmaker Mark Elijah Rosenberg had just graduated from Vassar College and moved back to his native New York and was looking for an innovative way to get people together for screenings of new short films.  Instead of trying to rent a small dingy theater, Rosenberg got out his 16MM projector, a cheap sound system and a big white sheet and invited everyone he could find up to the roof above his little apartment. Hundreds came out, many with their films in tow. Unfortunately, his landlord found out about the screening and evicted him soon thereafter. But Rooftop Films had been born.


GP: What is the primary vision of Rooftop Films?

Alece: Rooftop Films’ primary 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.

GP:  Is it just “Rooftops”?

Alece:  We not only screen on rooftops! We are interested in bringing new, independent films to cool outdoor spaces across the city whether they be on a boat, on a farm, or a rooftop overlooking Lower Manhattan.

GP:  What have been your favorite movies/films that you’ve shown?

Alece:  It’s so hard to choose just one. We are proud of our line-up this year and every single film, both short and feature-length.

GP:  What movies are you excited to host?

Alece: I think we are most excited about a special sneak preview of Ain’t Them Bodies Saints on Thursday, August 15. We gave the film the Rooftop Films & Edgeworx Post-Production Grant in 2011 and it will be exciting to see this final product. Oh and we’re showing it on a farm in Queens.

GP:  What can we expect from Rooftop Films this year to come?

Alece: At Rooftop, we are committed to bringing bigger, more enhanced events. What that means is making our screenings more exciting than they already are. For example, Branson, MO is taking over Rooftop Films on August 9 for the screening of Awful Nice in Sunset Park. We will have a Branson-based band and MC. The film is about brothers who is in this fabled town. It’s going to be a lot of fun!

GP:  Tell me more about the Animation Block Party happening this Friday.

Alece:  Animation Block Party is the premier animation festival of the East Coast. Since the first official ABP film festival on September 9th, 2004 – thousands of filmmakers have submitted their animated shorts and screened them at the yearly fest in Brooklyn, NY. The tenth annual Animation Block Party (ABP) is July 25-28, 2013 at The Music Hall of Williamsburg, Rooftop Films & BAMcinématek. ABP is dedicated to exhibiting all genres of the world’s best independent, professional and student animation. This year’s Festival details listed here.

Don’t miss the festivities!  Get your tickets here.

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