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Film Festivals

Rooftop Films 2017: Cinema & Skylines


Encompassing shorts, documentaries, features, animation, foreign directors, and home-grown heroes, the Rooftop Films series features daring films set against New York’s skyline. Running through August 19, multiple venues in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Long Island City play host to the film series, with each venue providing a unique backdrop and personality to the fest.


Films include:

  • The Challenge (Yuri Ancarani)
    On the roof of The Old American Can Factory. 232 Third St. Brooklyn
    If you have it, spend it: Italian artist Yuri Ancarani’s visually striking documentary enters the surreal world of wealthy Qatari sheikhs who moonlight as amateur falconers, with no expenses spared along the way. The Challenge follows these men through the rituals that define their lives: perilously racing blacked-out SUVs up and down sand dunes; sharing communal meals; taking their Ferraris out for a spin with their pet cheetahs riding shotgun; and much more. Ancarani’s film is a sly meditation on the collective pursuit of idiosyncratic desires.


  • Brigsby Bear (Dave McCary)
    On the roof of New Design High School. 350 Grand St. Manhattan
    After 25 years of secluded existence with his protective parents in their isolated, off-the-grid home, James (Kyle Mooney) is tossed out into a new life in relatively daunting Cedar Hills, Utah. As his world upends, the most shocking revelation to James is that he’s the only person who has ever watched his favorite television program, Brigsby Bear Adventures. Struggling to adjust to the show’s abrupt end, he begins to see Brigsby’s lessons as his only way to make sense of a big, scary new world, and James decides to make a movie to end Brigsby’s story—and re-begin his own.


  • The Incredible Jessica James (Jim Strouse)
    On the roof of The William Vale. 111 N 12th St. Brooklyn
    Jessica Williams (“The Daily Show”) stars as a young, aspiring playwright in New York City who is struggling to get over a recent breakup. She is forced to go on a date with the recently divorced Boone, played by Chris O’Dowd (Bridesmaids) and the unlikely duo discover how to make it through the tough times in a social media obsessed post-relationship universe. Lakeith Stanfield (FX’s “Atlanta”, Straight Outta Compton) and Noël Wells (Netflix’s “Master of None”) co-star. The film was written and directed by Jim Strouse and produced by Michael B. Clark and Alex Turtletaub of Beachside. Jessica Williams and Kerri Hundley serve as executive producers.


  • Monkey Business: The Adventures of Curious George’s Creators (Ema Ryan Yamazaki)
    On the roof of the JCC in Manhattan. 334 Amsterdam Ave. Manhattan
    Featuring a narrow escape from the Nazis on makeshift bicycles, Monkey Business explores the extraordinary lives of Hans and Margret Rey, the authors of the beloved Curious George children’s books.
    New York Premiere.


  • Trapped: Uncanny Short Films
    In the courtyard of Industry City. 274 36 St. Brooklyn
    Join us for a program of stories most unusual: the meeting of a spaceman and a cave man; an encounter with an alien phenomenon via public access television; and the imagined experiences of the forgotten subject of a famous photograph. These amusing and disquieting short films offer mix-tape portraits, analytic tragicomedies of infinite human desire and potentially-killer workplace procedurals. Experience startling cinematic spectacles you won’t soon forget.


And many more films!


To learn more, go to:

Rooftop Films
Through August 19

Various Venues

A Year After The Los Angeles Film Festival, Ethiopian filmmaker Salome Mulugeta's Career Soars

The Los Angeles Film Festival (LAFF) — produced by Film Independent — announced their films for the 2017 competition lineup which takes place June 14-22, 2017. It features 37 world-premiere titles, two international premieres and nine North American premieres chosen for the festival’s US Fiction, Documentary, World Fiction, LA Muse and Nightfall sections. Plus there are 51 short films, 15 Future Filmmaker High School shorts and nine web series episodes.  The competition is again — fierce!

Less than a year ago— at last year’s LAFF — filmmaker/producer/actress/ Salome Mulugeta and her team were biting their nails, trying to get Hollywood’s attention and a distribution deal for “Woven,” her first independent film. The feature’s a sweet, heart-felt family drama about a close-knit, New York-based Ethiopian family dealing with a family tragedy.    

In that short time span, director Mulugeta’s film career has taken such gigantic leaps forward that her journey could turn out to be a real-life Cinderella story but one in which the princess saves herself.

Determination is described as “[a] firmness of purpose; resoluteness — [s]he advanced with an unflinching determination.” Using that definition, Mulugeta is the very picture of creative determination. To wit, it took her 17 years to get financing for “Woven.”

Mulugeta resume reads as such: born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, she left at an early age to attend a boarding school for girls in Bedford, England, where she won many prestigious acting competitions. She now contributes content for the US-based Africa Channel and has produced and directed shows for Muziki Ni: The African Restaurant Week. She currently directs and hosts a show called “A Day in the Life of…” In 2016, Mulugeta was awarded the Achievement and Perseverance Award by the Women’s Journey Foundation. She’s been featured in Vibe Magazine and

woven-salome-film-profile-1474651141-640x700It bears repeating that it took 17 long years for Mulugeta to get “Woven” completed and the film almost didn’t make the cut for 2016’s LAFF. It was the push of two, creative women, the Los Angeles Film Festival Director of Programming Roya Rastegar, and powerhouse film producer Stephanie Allain, who was the LAFF Director, that got the fest to make room for the intimate family drama. At that time (she resigned the post in 2016), Allain saw something in the film, story and Mulugeta.

Asked why she fought to get “Woven” into LAFF, this is what LAFF’s Rastegar said: “‘Woven’ is an emotionally compelling directorial debut from first time directors Salome Mulugeta and Nagwa Ibrahim and we selected the film because the vision, energy, and voice of the film stood out amongst the thousands of feature film submissions we received. 

“I had never before seen an Ethiopian-American woman on screen navigating both cultures, and the story’s arc about forgiveness and redemption, even in the face of great tragedy, continues to resonate for me. Plus, Salome is also the star of the film! Talk about ambitious! Starring in your own film, which you also wrote and directed. I see immense talent in her, and I look forward to all the work she will make in the future.”

Love it. Loathe it. Ignore it. Embrace it. The fact is, when someone of power, a respected player in the game, stands up for you — everything changes in an instant. Shares producer Allain, “I met Salome after her film was selected for the LA Film Festival in 2016. We were looking for films from an authentic point of view and she brought her Ethiopian, female sensibilities to the story of survival despite life’s obstacles. Her poise and passion to tell stories close to her heart was palpable. We immediately connected as spiritual sisters unbeknownst to me, my producing partner Mel Jones, had her own meeting with Salome and when we compared notes, we knew we wanted to keep an eye out for what she would do next.”

What’s next is a big deal. Producer Allain was so impressed by Mulugeta’s storytelling abilities that she introduced her to Amy Tofte, a Nicholl Fellowship winner for Screenwriting (a fellowship program founded to aid screenwriters and administered by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts) in order for to write “Addis Abeka.” Tofte and Salome clicked. “Addis Abeka” tells the journey a young Ethiopian boy who loses his family and must navigate the world on his own for 10 years until he can be reunited with his brother. 

Helping shape a director’s career takes a “village” and Mulugeta was one of the six young filmmakers chosen to participate in Film Independent’s 2017 Directing Lab where she worked on “Addis Abeka.” Mulugeta will direct and executive produce with Allain and Jones producing for Homegrown Pictures. “Addis Abeka” is set to go into production this fall — with “Woven” DP Pedro Gomez Millan stepping behind the camera. The film will be shot entirely in Ethiopia.

Money is power in Hollywood. For indie filmmakers that simple fact is very challenging as they are often seek financing from non-industry sources. The funding for “Addis Abeka” was secured by Mulugeta’s efforts, a natural producer. It’s a rare and sought-after talent, and once Hollywood really wakes up, she might be the very thing that makes her a wealthy woman and a power broker in the Hollywood game.

Cinema Systers: The Daring All Lesbian Film Fest


Paducah, Kentucky is a city that, at a glance, may seem unassuming, but this May 26 to 28, they will be hosting the substantial Cinema Systers Film Festival for lesbian filmmakers.  Held at the Maiden Alley Cinema (112 Maiden Alley, Paducah, KY.), the fest is in it’s second year and is the only all lesbian film fest, with sixteen films mixing shorts, features, narratives and documentaries screening. This year’s festival will feature an "Artist Meets Audience" filmmaker Q&A with Denmark filmmakers Lone Falster and Iben Haahr Andersen, directors of In Light of the Revolution, a film on the experiences of women artists in Egypt in the aftermath of the Arab Spring.

Cinema Systers will also include live musical acts including Von Strantz, Kristen Ford, Weep, and more. Filmmaker Catherine Crouch will be doing a reading from “3 Days in August 2001”, a personal tale of sex, drugs, blood, and magic.

To learn more, go to:

Cinema Systers Film Festival
May 26 - 28, 2017

Maiden Alley Cinema
112 Maiden Alley
Paducah, KY 42001

NY Polish Film Fest 2017 Looks Back at Director Wajda


Now in its 13th year, the NY Polish Film Fest (May 2 - 7, 2017) will be paying tribute to Polish director Andrzej Wajda with a gala screening of his final film, Afterimage. The film, a biopic of painter Władysław Strzemiński, will be held at the Directors Guild of America (110 West 57th Street, New York, NY) with an introduction and live appearance by Martin Scorsese. The screening is in cooperation with the Wajda Film School in Warsaw (which Wajda founded) celebrating its 15th anniversary-  the NYPFF will present a selection of its students’ short, documentary, and first feature projects.

2017Poster Final-1The NYPFF will include screenings of some of the best new films from Poland, including The Last Family by Jan P. Matuszyński, United States of Love by Tomasz Wasilewski, and the Polish blockbuster comedy Singles Planet by Mitja Okorn at the Anthology Film Archives (32 2nd Avenue).

In conjunction with the NYPFF, Columbia University Film Professor Annette Insdorf will introduce a screening of Wojciech Has’s How to be Loved, which the Museum of Modern Art will present daily from April 29 to May 4 (together with his first feature The Noose).

To learn more, go to:

13th Annual NY Polish Film Fest
May 2 - 7, 2017

Directors Guild of America
110 West 57th Street, New York, NY 10019

Anthology Film Archives
32 2nd Avenue, New York, NY 10003

Museum of Modern Art
11 W 53rd St, New York, NY 10019

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