The Rooftop Films Summer Series is one of the best curated outdoor screening series New York City has to offer. Just this summer alone they’ve shown Jim McKay’s El séptimo día and Carlos López Estrada’s Blindspotting, as well as films starring Robert Pattinson, Nick Offerman, Taylor Schilling, and Toni Collette. Part of the fun of the series is the way it brings movies to unlikely venues (like the Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens or the Old American Can Factory in Brooklyn) and livening up the place with live music and talent Q&As. They make each showing feel unique in just the right way and lucky for us they still have a full slate coming up. So if you slept on their early summer offerings, be sure to at the very least put the following three movies in your calendar so you don’t miss them.
First up is We the Animals. This Sundance gem is based on Julio Torres’ achingly personal novel by the same name. It follows the “animals” of its title, three young boys who spend their days playing and roughhousing all the while trying to deal with an abusive father and a depressive mother. With echoes of Moonlight and Beasts of the Southern Wild, this coming of age tale features a devastating performance by Raul Castillo as the boys’ father as well as some of the best natural light cinematography we’ve seen in an indie film this year. Screening at the Old American Can Factory on July 27, attendees will also get a chance to catch a Q&A with director Jeremiah Zagar.
For those who want something closer to home (or who want to see a live performance by Jaden Smith) there’s Crystal Moselle’s Skate Kitchen. The New York City-set drama about an all-girl group of skaters actually stars a real-life skating throng of girls whose name give the film its title. Having followed them on Instagram for ages, Camille (newcomer Rachelle Vinberg) one day decides to take the train from Long Island to the Lower East Side to see what other girl skaters can do. Defying her mom (Orange is the New Black‘s Elizabeth Rodriguez) and later getting involved with a friend’s ex (played by Smith), this dizzying cinema verité-style film is tailor-made for sporty POC girls everywhere. Skate Kitchen will screen (for free!) on July 30 at House of Vans with a Q&A with Moselle and the cast.
Rounding out its Latinx roster is Gustavo Pizzi’s Loveling (Benzinho). This Brazilian flick about motherhood follows Irene (Karine Teles) as she readies to say goodbye to her eldest son, who’s been recruited to play handball professionally in Germany. Suffering a kind of crisis as she realizes what it means to let a child go, she embraces the sense of possibility this offers her. She sets out to get her high school diploma, change her job and even plan for a new family home. Adding to the familial spirit of the film, you should know that director Gustavo Pizzi and actress Teles (The Second Mother) are a divorced couple who nevertheless remain close creative partners: they wrote the screenplay for Loveling together! Their film will screen for free on August 1 over at Socrates Sculpture Park in Astoria.
The Rooftop Films Summer Series runs until August 25, 2018.