The Operating System


In 2001, when I had just returned from Philadelphia to find Williamsburg, Brooklyn a very different place than the old Italian neighborhood I’d grown up in, I worried my mother by telling her I was venturing farther into Bushwick than either of us had ever gone. But things were changing, and the blooming creative culture that now feels so established, so expected in these neighborhoods was boldly striking out across boundaries both geographic and artistic.
You could feel it coming – like the quivering of a plant about to bud — in the organic, hardwrought ventures running entirely on passion and volunteer labor that dominated those times. In this case, I got on a train to Morgan Avenue, and headed to what would become the infamous McKibben Loft building, with my then boyfriend who worked in independent film. He had told me excitedly about Rooftop Films: a underground series that was beginning to gain traction but was still somewhat of a secret, and we were headed to a program of avant-garde pieces from a list of filmmakers I’d never heard of. It didn’t matter.
I was immediately taken by the energy and courage of the project – its willingness to show and promote little known artists and students, and its dedication to giving the film community here in New York a new platform. And audiences agreed — mostly by word of mouth the series grew into the summertime tradition so many of us know, love, and look forward to. 
Now, Rooftop Films’ events at the American Can Factory (the project’s home since 2004) are full to bursting, often requiring a second screen in the courtyard downstairs, and sharing the stage with independent musicians and speakers. 
You’d hope, in what will be the organization’s 17th year, that they’d have the funds to continue expanding this incredible work even farther into the community – but even with big name partnerships and sponsors, growth remains a struggle, and the programs continue to stay afloat via volunteer hours and the support of film lovers in New York and beyond.
Rooftop’s Kickstarter campaign is underway, with 6 more days to go and we’re hoping you’ll help out. Your gifts will be repaid so many times, with great perks like season membership, dvd’s, tickets to BAM Rose Cinemas, and more.
The great thing about (ok *one* of the great things about) Rooftop, too, is that no matter how much it grows it still feels like a family — their small and dedicated team (including friend to Exit Strata, Sarah Feuquay) works tirelessly in support of the programming, going above and beyond in that way that leaves no doubt no one’s in it for the money.
It bears noting that one of the staff just offered this great list to potential donors… how could you not?

“I’ll come cook you a meal, sew on your missing button, teach you how to ride a bike backwards, teach your kid how to hustle in the streets, give you a stick-and-poke tattoo so you can look like a fucking G(I’m street certified for this. No worries), cut your hair, flip off a cop for you when you get pulled over, lend you my shoulder to cry on, dj your dance party, get fucked up and have a netflix marathon with you when you’re feeling lonely, give you a photo shoot, make you a super sexy bedroom boom baby making slowjams playlist, help push you towards your goal by insulting and calling you names ya bitch, show you the best way to conceal and deploy a shank(hood survival 101), be all ears so you can spill your heart out telling me your life problems and I’ll give you a big warm loving hug at the end and pretend to understand, and the lapdance is making a return due to popular demand.”

We love Rooftop Films: a unique and vibrant part of the cultural landscape of film.
Please consider a gift today! Perhaps you can give a gift donation to the film lover on your holiday list…
You thoughtful person, you.

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