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Rooftop Films announces 2021 lineup for 25th Anniversary Summer Series in NYC

New York’s popular Summer Series returns with in-person screenings beginning June 17; lineup features Janicza Bravo’s ‘Zola’, ESPN’s ‘Once Upon a Time In Queens’ about the ‘86 Mets, & more


Festival will collaborate with iconic NY organizations including Capital One City Parks Foundation SummerStage & Jazz at Lincoln Center, plus If/Then & Field of Vision to create opportunities for filmmakers for 25th Anniversary 


Rooftop Films, the non-profit organization and film community celebrated as New York’s home for independent films, is thrilled to announce the return of their annual Rooftop Films Summer Series, one of the longest running and largest outdoor showcases for independent film in the world. Keeping with a 25-year long tradition, the Summer Series will open with a collection of new short films on Thursday, June 17th, at Green-Wood Cemetery. The screenings will follow all CDC and state guidelines which allow for more New Yorkers to gather safely for cultural events. The Rooftop Films Summer Series is presented by SundanceTV.


The Summer Series will run from June 17th through mid-September and will include more than 40 outdoor screenings featuring new independent feature films, short film programs, and episodic events. Programming highlights include: 

·        The NY premiere of Janicza Bravo’s Zola, presented by A24 on the lawn in Fort Greene Park;

·        The World Premiere of Once Upon a Time in Queens, ESPN’s new series detailing the uniquely wild championship run of the 1986 Mets;

·        NY premieres of exceptional new documentaries, including Joshua Rofé’s Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal and Greed, and Sally Aitken’s Playing with Sharks.

·        Special screenings of new festival favorites from around the world, including Amalia Ulman’s El Planeta, Natalie Morales’ Language Lessons, Graham Mason’s Inspector Ike, Aneil Karia’s Surge, Todd Stephens’ Swan Song, Salomé Jashi’s Taming the Garden, and many more. 

·        The current complete list of programming is below. Additional programming, dates, venues and partnerships will be announced throughout the summer.


"Last year, Rooftop Films was able to create drive-in venues across New York City and present more than 150 outdoor events - but nothing replaces the experience of being seated together in a crowd, watching a film that transports us to another place and reminds us that we are very much not alone," said Dan Nuxoll, President of Rooftop Films. "As we selected the films for this year's Summer Series, we sought out bold new works that focus the beams of light shining through the darkness, capture the celebrations that became acts of resistance, and depict the happy accidents that only come about when we gather as one.”


Rooftop films also announced partnerships with iconic New York organizations to create new guest experiences and further support filmmakers. Additional information about the 25th Annual Summer Series programming, screening venues and partnerships is below:


More than a film festival

The Summer Series, Rooftop’s core program, is the only outdoor festival of its kind, screening site-specific programs of new independent films throughout NYC each summer. The screenings are more than just film screenings, they are cinema events featuring live music, immersive performances, and filmmaker Q&As. Rooftop hosts over 40 outdoor movie events with more than 48,000 attendees per summer in outdoor locations throughout New York City, and is excited to continue that tradition for the 2021 summer season. 


Acclaimed short film programming

Rooftop Films has long been renowned for our short film programming and our 25th Anniversary Summer Series will include scores of exceptional short films from around the world. In addition to our opening and closing night short film programs and signature events like our New York Non-Fiction screening, we are  thrilled to partner with Capital One City Parks Foundation SummerStage in Central Park to curate programs of new short films featuring the work of filmmakers whose voices and stories complement the featured musical performers and represent the vibrant international communities of our city. 


Live musical performances

Rooftop Films Summer Series events have included live musical performances for more than two decades, and this year’s program will continue that tradition. In addition to our pre-film music performance programming, Rooftop will be collaborating with Jazz at Lincoln Center, who will be curating special musical performances prior to the films at select events, kicking off with opening night (June 17) at Greenwood Cemetery featuring trio New Jazz Underground. Jazz at Lincoln Center’s outdoor concert series provided by Lisa K. Meulbroek and Brent R. Harris, with major support provided by Susan and J. Alan Kahn. Rooftop Films will also be presenting signature music-focused events throughout the summer, including a screening of the documentary, October Country, featuring the world premiere of a live score by filmmakers Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher, presented in partnership with Museum of the Moving Image as part of their First Look festival. 


Scenic venues and community partnerships

Rooftop Films has long been a highly collaborative organization, and we will be working with dozens of venues and partners to bring events to every corner of the city this summer. 2021 venue partners will include Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn; Brookfield’s Metrotech Commons; Fort Greene Park, in partnership with the Fort Greene Park Conservancy; The Old American Can Factory in Gowanus; the rooftops of The William Vale in Greenpoint; The Queens Drive-In in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, created by Rooftop in partnership with New York Hall of Science and Museum of the Moving Image; and the pier at The Brooklyn Army Terminal in Sunset Park, which will host multiple screenings throughout the summer, including our popular New York Non-Fiction program, presented in partnership with If/Then Shorts and Field of Vision, preceded by daytime workshops for up-and-coming documentarians.


A track record of safe screenings throughout the past year

Following the aftermath of the lockdown due to COVID-19, Rooftop Films and its partners at MOMI and NYSCI quickly pivoted to a drive-in model for the 2020 summer season and opened the Brooklyn and Queens Drive-Ins, hosting over 150 public events and offering one of the largest outdoor screens in NYC. Proving to be extremely successful, the drive-ins became a safe gathering space for audiences to enjoy the latest film releases and also provided crucial job opportunities for the Queens and Brooklyn communities that had been devastated as a result of the pandemic. The Queens Drive-In also hosted the 58th annual New York Film Festival and was extremely influential in making the festival a possibility during the COVID-19 pandemic.



Tickets for select upcoming screenings are on sale now via the Rooftop Films website, with additional dates and tickets to be released in the coming weeks.


For first-access to events, memberships are available at


About Rooftop Films

Rooftop Films is a non-profit organization whose mission is to engage and inspire the diverse communities of New York City by showcasing the work of emerging filmmakers and musicians. In addition to their annual Summer Series – which takes place in unique outdoor venues every weekend throughout the summer – Rooftop provides grants to filmmakers, rents equipment at low-cost to artists and fellow non-profits, and supports screenings citywide with the Rooftop Films Community Fund. At Rooftop Films, we bring underground movies outdoors. For more information and updates, please visit


About SummerStage

Capital One City Parks Foundation SummerStage is New York’s largest free outdoor performing arts festival. SummerStage annually presents approximately 100 performances in 15-18 parks throughout the five boroughs. With performances ranging from American pop, Latin, global music, dance, and more, SummerStage fills a vital niche in New York City’s summer arts festival landscape. Since its inception 35 years ago, more than six million people from New York City and around the world have enjoyed SummerStage. In 2020, Capital One City Parks Foundation SummerStage Anywhere was launched in response to the global pandemic, presenting 80 free digital performances, spanning all genres, available to all around the world. Capital One is the Title Sponsor of SummerStage. For more information, visit


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