Tag Archives: Rooftop Films

Outdoor Film Screenings

Summer in NYC is a hot, sticky time full of free outdoor events. There are yoga classes, bubble wars, wandering Shakespeare, Shakespeare in a Parking Lot, countless concerts of all musical varieties and, my favorite part of the summer- outdoor film screenings! There’s something about sitting on the grass, eating picnic food and watching a movie that makes me positively glowy. I suppose it’s because I love the group experience of seeing a movie with hundreds of strangers, but I hate paying the $12.50 to do so in a theater. The outdoor film screening gives NYC back its raucous movie going adventures. The New York Parks Dept. has a pretty exhaustive list of the screenings happening this summer, but I’d like to spotlight the ones I think are particularly exciting!

The Bryant Park film series is one of the best known and therefore one of the most crowded. You need to get there when the lawn opens (5pm) and be prepared to use all your New Yorker bitchiness to get a spot. This year they’ve saved the best movie for last: Bonnie and Clyde on Monday Aug. 23rd. Watch this trailer and consider if watching in a group is worth the hassle for you.

The only really exciting film (for me at least) at Summerscreen this summer is the Labyrinth. God I love David Bowie. Sigh. Lucky for you the screening was postponed by rain and will be happening Aug. 18th, so you still have time to figure out what to wear when on hipster home turf!

On Wed. July 21st take a trip up to Van Cortland Park in the Bronx for a screening of one of the most romantic movies ever released- Casablanca. You and your significant other will be so wrapped up in the romance you’ll almost forget how long it will take you to get home.

The Summer on the Hudson film screenings on Pier 1 in Riverside Park South offer a lovely view of the water and free chairs (if you show up early enough). My two picks are Big Fish on Aug. 4th and Stranger than Fiction on Aug. 11th. Here’s the trailer for the latter; imagine watching it with the Hudson River in the background (sigh, I love summer in NYC).

The Rooftop Film Noir Screenings are new (at least to me) this summer. I find the idea of watching film noir from a rooftop in the W. Village extremely compelling. My pick is Sunset Boulevard on July 22nd.

Hudson River Park’s River Flicks provide cool breezes off the water as well as free popcorn! There’s only one film in the lineup I’d want to see this summer- Julie and Julia (Aug 4th). I’ve already seen it and I can assure you it’s nice light summery fare but be sure to bring a substantial picnic- all the cooking will make you hungry!

Also new to me this summer is the Red Hook Summer Movies festival. From their website it looks like the view behind the screen will be phenomenal- Lady Liberty is the guest star of every film! The films are mostly new to me as well so I can’t give any solid recommendations, though Splash looks ridiculous enough to be fun:

I’m not too keen on any of the movies screening at Socrates Sculpture Park in July, but the August schedule isn’t up yet so you should definitely check the site again later this month to see what comes up!

Rooftop Films, though generally not free, is one of my favorite summer institutions. The screenings take place in a variety of locations, not all on rooftops. My favorite venue by far is the Old American Can Factory, so if one of the screenings happening there appeals to you definitely go! I generally favor the programs of short films. July 21st they’re showing a program of Swedish short films, which I might skip were it not that I’ve seen one of the films (INSTEAD OF ABRACADABRA) and it was marvelous! I would also strongly recommend Animation Block Party (July 30th)- a wonderful night of animated shorts that I’ve attended 2 years running.

Last but certainly not least, my all time favorite venue for film screenings- Brooklyn Bridge Park. There is nothing more magical than sitting between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges watching a wonderful film with your friends. It is a truly New York experience. The film selection this year isn’t that great but I would say The Blues Brothers on Aug. 19th is the best of the bunch.

Happy watching!!

August 5-9 Summer in the city…

In August many New Yorkers flee their hometown to escape the sticky heat and herds of tourists; this August make your friends in the Catskills green with envy when you tell them about all the shenanigans you got up to in The Big Apple while they were swatting mosquitoes! This week has lots of jealousy worthy events in store!

This evening, if it doesn’t rain, The Asphalt Orchestra will be performing as part of the Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival:

An iconoclastic 12-piece marching band conceived by Bang on a Can premieres ambitious processional music from every corner of the music world, works that coax funk from the funereal and would make a halftime show sparkle with sophistication. Choreographer Susan Marshall weds parade spectacle to new pieces by Tyondai Braxton (of Battles), Goran Bregovic, and Stew and Heidi Rodewald, and arrangements of songs by Björk, Meshuggah, Mingus, Nancarrow, and Zappa.

If it rains they’ll be performing throughout August so you’ll have more chances to experience this funky version of a marching band.

Also at the whim of the weather gods, Waltz with Bashir may be screening in Socrates Sculpture Park this evening; for an audience numbed to the violence shown on the news this animated film is somehow more real than a traditional documentary. Here’s the trailer:

On Thursday check out a special shorts screening of work by Peter Buntaine and Lorenzo Gattorna of New York(er) Shorts on a rooftop in Bushwick (15 Lawton Street, Brooklyn; films screen at sunset).

If you’re interested in seeing some better known short films outdoors spend your Thursday evening in Central Park where Ashbury Shorts will be screening at Summerstage:

New York City’s longest running exhibition of award-winning independent short films presents “An Evening of the World’s Best Short Films,” featuring live music, celebrity guests, and noteworthy, festival award-winning short films compiled over the past ten years. Films to be featured include: Super Powers – Best Short Film, 2007 Tribeca Film Festival; Yours Truly – voted best animated short film at over five international festivals; Stalker Guilt Syndrome – Live Action Comedy – Jonah Kaplan, Brooklyn; Tanghi Argentini – Audience Prize, Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival; plus other classic shorts.

For the literary amongst you there’s a great reading at Solas Thursday night, courtesy of the St. Mark’s Bookshop– John Joseph will read from his autobiographical work The Evolution of a Cro-Magnon, which details his experiences in the punk scene and his struggles with homelessness, addiction and insanity. Be prepared to be horrified.

If you want more laughter and less horror in your Thursday check out The Raspberry Brothers at Comix; this time they’re exercising their wit on Karate Kid.

Pat Morita in Karate Kid

Pat Morita in Karate Kid

On Friday, if you missed seeing The Muppet Movie at BAM last week you have another chance to see it, this time on Pier 46 in Hudson River Park.

You also have a chance to see two great up-and-coming bands Friday night at Spike Hill. Ellis Ashbrook is playing alongside Mem (who I wrote about recently). Here’s a great shot from Mem’s last show:



If recent screenings of Cary Grant films have left you hungry for much much more you’re in luck- BAM is having a Cary Grant Retrospective all through the month of August; here’s a clip from Saturday’s offering The Talk of the Town:

Saturday is a big day for electronic music. First, Boys Noize is playing on Central Park’s Sumerstage. For those of you who need a full day of electronic music I bring you… The Brooklyn Electronic Music Festival! This massive event at the Old American Can Factory features performances by Juan Maclean, Young Love and Designer Drugs.


For those of you who have a favorite anime character (admit it- you have more than one), Saturday is your chance to dress the part at Brooklyn Waterfront Artist Coalition‘s All Day Anime Event! Keep your costume legal (no naked nymphs, etc.) and mingle with other anime enthusiasts while checking out awesome new artworks!

If you think you have what it takes to complete the Pizza Tour of Brooklyn join fellow pizzaholics for a day of serious eating this Sunday.


Have you heard of silent kung fu films? No? Well, that may be because there is only one surviving from the golden age of Chinese cinema. Rooftop Films will be bringing it to you with a new original score by Devil Music Ensemble, performed live, at the Automotive High School in Brooklyn. This screening of Red Heroine also includes a martial arts demonstration and is followed by an open bar.

Finally, to add a little art to your weekend I recommend checking out the ongoing exhibit at the Yossi Milo Gallery– Sexy and the City New York Photographs:

Sexy and the City shows the alluring, romantic and sometimes scandalous side of New York’s people and places. Capturing private, intimate moments and blatant displays of sexuality, these photographs span the decades from the 1940s to the present day, taken in landmark locations like the Brooklyn Bridge and in the quiet, out-of-the-way corners of the city.

This is one photograph being displayed:

Alfred Eisenstaedt’s iconic image of a kissing couple in Times Square on V-J Day, 1945

Alfred Eisenstaedt’s iconic image of a kissing couple in Times Square on V-J Day, 1945

Have an excellent week(end) and stay tuned for additions!

July 22-27 (Take 1)

This weekend is chock full of excellent events. Be sure to check my previous post for fun stuff happening tonight and tomorrow. Plus, a quick addition for tonight, if you won’t be able to make it to the Excess Energy party at Hugs Thursday you can check out Brian Blackout at Fontana’s tonight; he’ll be spinning a lot of 70’s arena rock, funk, psychedelia and indie rock- sounds like a party to me!

It turns out that Mayor Bloomberg is the one who dubbed this Good Beer Month! Go out and celebrate his stroke of genius Thursday night at Pacific Standard, where they’re having an Epic New York State Beer Throwdown, featuring (according to Brooklyn Based):

beers from Keegan Ales,Captain Lawrence Brewing CompanyIthaca Brewery, and Lake Placid Brewery, as well as our very own Kelso of Brooklyn and Sixpoint Craft Ales.

Friday night Rooftop Films takes the show the the ground (the lawn of Automotive High School in Wburg) for Animation Block Party! They’re “dedicated to exhibiting the world’s best independent, professional and student animation,” and they’ve definitely followed through in the past. This is going to be a fantastic show, full of comedy and drama and animation in all sorts of styles.

If you’re looking for a classic film join kids of all ages in Hudson River Park for a screening of Ghostbusters! Check out the trailer to remind yourself of just how great it is:

On Saturday night you can go to the rave you always dreamed of attending- FIXED is coming back to the basement of the Tribeca Grand! Guest DJs RitonLemonade and Free Energy will keep you dancing all night long!

Also on Saturday Indian Idol Kailash Kher will be rocking the Prospect Park Bandshell! His music is described as “adding elements of folk, reggae and rock to Indian pop” and he definitely looks like he knows how to put on a show.


On Sunday, for a change of pace from all the beer celebrations, celebrate pork at 3rd Ward’s 2nd Annual Pig Roast and Dance Party!  Butchers from Marlow & Sons will be slicing and dicing for your culinary enjoyment (there will also be beer, don’t worry). Here’s an impressive (and kind of gross) image from last year’s event:

Pig Roast 2008

3rd Ward's Pig Roast and Dance Party 2008

Sunday night finish off your weekend with Our Lady J: Gospel for the Godless at Joe’s Pub:

Our Lady J is a New York based singer/songwriter known for her visionary gospel stylings and powerhouse pianistic skills. Along with her “Pink Champagne Orchestra” and “Train-To-Kill Gospel Choir,” she has sold out crowds at The Zipper Factory, Ars Nova, The Beechman Theatre, as well as world venues including London’s prestigious South Bank Centre and the Spiegeltent (in Manchester, UK). She has also traveled the globe as music director and arranger for Justin Bond’s recent original song cycles. This year, Out Magazine named her as one of the “Out 100,” a list of the people who helped shape LGBT culture in 2008.

On Monday MetroMetro is hosting the 3rd Board Game Olympics at Union Hall; games include Trivial Pursuit, Jenga, Uno, Battleship, Connect Four, Memory and Operation! Sign up in advance and use those skills your parents said were useless!

Stay tuned for additions and have a great weekend!

July 10-13 Pretty and French

It is so lovely outside today that I almost don’t want to be indoors writing to you, however, I would be a terrible blogger if I failed to inform you of some of the wonderful events the Big Apple has to offer this weekend.

First, an addition to tonight’s lineup; a new exhibit is opening at Mixed Greens– X 10th Anniversary Exhibition:

With X, we present a large selection of the many amazing artists with whom we’ve been privileged to work. Their techniques and subject matter vary widely, but all of these artists captured our attention either by their extraordinary use of materials or through their deep examination and investigation of their subjects. There is no theme uniting the 84 participating artists—the only common denominator is Mixed Greens. Some might call it narcissistic. Others nostalgic. We consider it to be a celebration of some of the best artists working today.

I’ve heard tell that the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck will also be there!

If you’ve never been to a Contra Dance event you should experience the madness Friday night at the LGBT Community Center; this event will have the added twist of being “gender neutral.” There are a lot of twists in contra already, that one makes this a true ‘only-in-New-York’ event.

Contra Dancers

Contra Dancers

If you’re looking for a nice way to enjoy the evening outdoors you can enjoy a childhood favorite on the shore of the Hudson River; The Wizard of Oz will be screening on Pier 46!

Inside, and a bit further north, The Raspberry Brothers will be tearing apart the 80s classic Pretty in Pink! This is a must see if you’re going to attend the Pretty in Pink Prom Saturday night (keep reading for details). I guarantee their antics will give you excellent cocktail conversation.


So, The Prom, well, Pretty in Pink Prom Night is happening Saturday night at The Bell House (where else?). It’s going to be an epic nostalgia trip complete with a “totally radical giant 80s prom backdrop,” in front of which you can have your prom pictures professionally shot, a “50 foot balloon drop” AND “bathrooms stocked with Aqua Net for heavy primping.” Not to mention one of the best 80s cover bands available- The Engagements! Get out there and have the prom you always dreamed of!

Also on Saturday it’s Bronx Gridlock vs. Brooklyn Bombshells at the Hunter College Sportsplex! If you haven’t made it out to a Gotham Girls Roller Derby bout this year, this is a great time to go!

roller derby

ALSO on Saturday Rooftop Films is screening a movie at The Old American Can Factory- 45365 won Best Documentary at SXSW 2009:

45365 captures the plain pathos of a single place like few other films ever do. It is amusing and informative, exciting and realistic, tragic and eternal. But as I said, this synopsis is inadequate. To get at these emotions and ideas, you could live all your life in Sidney, Ohio, or you could see this film.

The Oberlin band Like Bells will perform before the screening; my little sister is currently an Oberlin student so all things Oberlin have a special place in my heart.

Of course I’m also a tremendous francophile so I may have to celebrate Bastille Day on Saturday. There are a number of celebrations in the city; my pick is the Petanque Tournament at Cornichon. Petanque is sort of like frenchified bocce ball; there will also be lots of wine and good cheer!

Libertie! Egalitie! Fraternitie!

Libertie! Egalitie! Fraternitie!

On Sunday you can continue to embrace your inner francophile at Le Poisson Rouge, where they will be screening one of the most influential French films of the French New Wave- The 400 Blows. François Truffaut‘s masterpiece gives you an intimate look into the Paris of the 1950s.

Also on Sunday you can swing under the stars with George Gee’s Big Band at Moondance on Pier 54!

Monday is the start of the Metropolitan Opera’s Summer Series; Paulo Szot, Lisette Oropesa, Alek Shrader, and Vlad Iftinca will be performing on Central Park’s Summerstage. If you can’t get any of the free tickets for this event check out the performances in the outer boroughs throughout the week.

Also on Monday, Wilco will be performing in Keyspan Park; Yo La Tengo will open. Check out this video:

Have a marvelous weekend and stay tuned for additions!

May 15-17 Are you overwhelmed yet?

Are you overwhelmed by the possibilities for this weekend? No? Well, I have EVEN MORE to share with you!

Tonight is opening night for Rooftop Films! If you don’t know about them they are my favorite summer film series; they screen “new, original, independent films you won’t see anywhere else, in the company of your community, our community, and the New York City night. ” Tonight’s performance is at 350 Grand Street @ Essex- the Essex Street Academy. The roof has been decorated by the students with amazing graffiti art, which makes for the perfect backdrop to a program of short films, preceded by live music from Cymbals Eat Guitars.

Rooftop Films at the Essex Street Academy 2008

Rooftop Films at the Essex Street Academy 2008

On Saturday you can observe the spectacle of the biggest Dance Parade of the summer (don’t quote me on that but it’s pretty frickin big). Starting at 28th St. at 1pm the parade will “boogie down Broadway” ending at Tompkins Square Park.


Sunday you have two chances to see Enlighten UP! a documentary by filmmaker Kate Churchill that follows a yoga newbie as he searches for a transformative experience. As a yoga newbie myself I can attest to the difficulty of finding a niche within the yoga culture. The New York Times says the film “explores its subject with a light touch and welcome sense of humor.” Check out the trailer:

Have an excellent weekend and please read yesterday’s post and Tuesday’s post for other weekend events!