Rooftop Films brings interesting films to exotic locations

The experience of going to the movies should be magical and romantic.

The experience of going to the movies should be magical and romantic. Too often, in this age of cookie-cutter multiplexes, abundant price gouging and poor projection, it’s anything but that.

Enter Rooftop Films, the annual summer festival devoted to showing interesting independent films in spots atop and within city structures, on nights that often include live music and after parties.

“It’s about an experience,” says Desiree Akhavan, whose film “Appropriate Behavior” screens at the festival in July. “Right now we’re consuming films in a really different way, on the Internet and on our Apple TVs but very rarely are we going to the theaters.

“With independent films, there are only a couple theaters that you traditionally go to. But when you’re out of your element and you have an evening based around a movie, which includes live music and drinks, it’s a completely different experience.”

This is Rooftop’s 18th year — it originated with a single screening on founder and artistic director Mark Elijah Rosenberg’s East Village roof.

This year’s edition features 45 movies, ranging from “Obvious Child” starring Jenny Slate to the terrific East New York-set “Five Star” and a premiere of “Cold In July,” starring Michael C. Hall and Don Johnson. There are some oddballs in the mix, including “Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter,” starring Japanese actress Rinko Kikuchi as a woman obsessed with “Fargo.”

It’s business as usual from a programming standpoint, in other words, but program director Dan Nuxoll cites the expanded slate of screenings at the Sunset Park Industry City space and a screening at the Brooklyn Grange rooftop farm as two exciting new developments.

“This is one of the many transitions we’ve made over the year to find locations that we think are interesting, spots that people really haven’t experienced yet before,” he says. “Part of our mission in addition to showing great films is to change the way people interact with their neighborhoods, communities and public and private spaces.”

Tony Gerber, whose documentary “The Notorious Mr. Bout” was supported by a Rooftop grant, says his screening means a lot.

“To be able to see it in a crowd, on a big screen, on a beautiful night in Brooklyn is magical,” he says.


If you go: Rooftop Films runs throughout the summer, beginning Friday, at venues across the city. rooftopfilms.com

Robert Levin