ON a recent Saturday, as the sun set in broad pink strokes over Brooklyn, about 300 people gathered on a roof to watch a movie. But first there was music: a guitarist and a Korean singer performed, their images projected on the enormous screen. When the sky darkened and birds dove chirping around the “theater,” the audience settled in for “Crossing the Line,” a 2006 documentary about an American soldier who defected to North Korea at the height of the cold war. Afterward the film’s director, Daniel Gordon, who had flown in specially from England, did a Q&A, and then there was a courtyard reception with $1 drinks.
Only in New York, said Joy Doumis, 27, a television producer who came with her boyfriend and fellow producer, Jeremy Hammond, 29. They brought an elaborate homemade picnic of sandwiches, gazpacho, home-brewed wheat ale and Italian ices. “It’s one of the things that I appreciate most about the city,” Ms. Doumis said of the series, Rooftop Films.
A screening of “Crossing the Line,” a 2006 documentary, at the Old American Can Factory in Brooklyn.
Summer moviegoing is associated with temperature: the hot blockbuster in the icy air-conditioned theater. But in New York the season also brings movies with another setting that is, in its own way, equally cool: the outdoors.
Films are shown in parks, gardens, pools, museums and on piers. Most screenings are free, or at least cheaper than at the local multiplex, and they often feature other entertainment, like music. And on a summer evening, gathering under the stars — or the streetlights — to commune with friends and strangers on blankets and folding chairs in the glow of a classic film, has an undeniable romance, not least because it’s a truly cheap date. It’s like the urban version of a drive-in — except, of course, that it’s a walk-up.
Literally, in the case of Rooftop Films. Moviegoers climbed several flights of stairs, weaving their way through the Old American Can Factory, a former industrial complex near the Gowanus Canal that now houses artists’ studios, to see “Crossing the Line.” Rooftop Films also shows movies on the lawn of the Automotive High School in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and in various locations around Manhattan.
“The Night of the Hunter” (1955), shown here at the former McCarren Park Pool in Brooklyn.
Held regularly since 1997, when it began on an East Village apartment roof, and organized like a festival, Rooftop has become a destination for independent shorts, documentaries and features, the kind that might one day win honors at Sundance or Cannes. Rooftop receives 2,500 submissions annually from all over the world, said Mark Elijah Rosenberg, the co-founder and artistic director, and aims for unusual programs, like one showcasing filmmakers’ home movies. Tonight it is showing shorts from an independent animation festival at Automotive High School; an afterparty with an open bar follows. Take that, Bryant Park.
That lawn, of course, is the site of the city’s best-known outdoor cinema series, the HBO-sponsored screenings held on Mondays in the summer months since 1993. Now the park green easily reaches its capacity — about 10,000 people — for vintage comedies, musicals and other classics. (Next week’s film is the 1949 “All the King’s Men.”) The event has its own eccentric traditions, like the HBO dance (a stand-up wiggle done to the network’s theme song, played before the movie) and the mad dash to get a spot when the lawn opens at 5 p.m. (worth watching on YouTube).
Now there are screenings every night of the week in dozens of locations around town. The McCarren Park Pool, the enormous former swimming pool in Williamsburg, inaugurated a film series last year, sponsored by The L Magazine and showing hipster-approved flicks like “Repo Man” (this Tuesday). “Passport Fridays” started three years ago at the Queens Museum of Art, in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park; each internationally oriented event begins with dancing and music from local bands. Tonight is Indian night: DJ Rekha, of Basement Bhangra, will spin records, accompanied by bhangra dancers and live drumming, before a screening of “The Thread,” a 2006 Hindi drama.
Socrates Sculpture Park, the outdoor museum in Long Island City, Queens, that has a stunning view of the midtown Manhattan skyline, also has a program meant to highlight the ethnic and cultural diversity of its borough. Building on a theme — this year’s is music, though sometimes the theme correlates with the sculpture on view — the organizers choose a country for each week’s screening. David Schwartz and Livia Bloom, curators at the Museum of the Moving Image in nearby Astoria, select a movie, and the organizers pick a musical act and, perhaps most important, a local restaurant to match. Entrance is free, and the food is usually less than $10, said Shawn Leonardo, the park’s special events coordinator. Though Brazilian night is by far the most popular, the audiences are diverse and adventurous, Mr. Schwartz said. “It’s not just a Greek audience for Greek films,” he said.To read the entire article follow this link: http://tinyurl.com/yt5z6w