I did not know what to expect from the Rooftop Films Summer Series. I had the core facts: I was going to the William Vale in Williamsburg to watch an indie film, Pink Wall, on the building’s roof. Rooftop Films shows these kinds of indie films by up-and-coming filmmakers and uses proceeds from its events to support the future projects of those filmmakers. Between those facts were a lot of little questions, the kinds of questions you do not think about until you are a couple of blocks away from the venue.
Dinner was my first concern, so I took care of that beforehand. If you are ever in the area, Mister Dips is a burger and fries place operated out of a slipstream trailer parked by the building. Their “Dirty Dipped Waffles” fries are messy but oh-so-worth-it. I am glad I ate; dinner is not part of the Rooftop package.
The line at the William Vale moved quickly, and soon I found myself on the rooftop level. It’s a bar–popular, gorgeous in glass, and designed for a view. I moved through and found my way up a flight of stairs to yet another rooftop level, this one covered in chairs. The view of Manhattan across the water was stunning. I was early, so I spent some time admiring the view. The event was sponsored by Ketel One Vodka and Corona, with drinks provided, which didn’t hurt the experience.
I made my way to a seat as more guests arrived, grabbing a bag of Lays Poppables (another sponsor) as I did. There were a lot of couples, which doesn’t surprise me. Something changes about a movie date when it takes place 200-plus feet above the ground in the open air as the sun sets on New York City. There were also plenty of groups; the group next to me had been dragged there by one of their number who loved films but didn’t want to go alone. Everyone was excited.
The program opened with a short speech by Programming and Festival Coordinator Maria Rhodes, introducing the Rooftop Films event and musical guest Faten Kanaan, a Brooklyn-based performer. Kanaan uses a vintage synth to loop music into ever-more-complex melodies, which she does live, a performance helped by the wind whipped up on the rooftop.
Finally, the movie. Pink Wall was terrific: a scrambled retelling of the rise and fall of a six-year relationship in six moments. The combination of vivid storytelling and the wide space between each moment are reminiscent of memories, hazy and out of order, and let each viewer–myself included–see something of themselves in the relationship. Pink Wall manages to capture the intimate parts of relationships that don’t make it into most films: fights ended in moments of shared absurdity, awkward moments at dinner tables, and those fights that feel like something’s changed even if it won’t become apparent for years to come. It’s something you’ll never see in a mainstream movie theater and a compelling argument for both independent films and for projects like Rooftop Films.
A last shoutout to Pink Wall Director Tom Cullen and star Jay Duplass, who were both present after the film for questions. Finishing Pink Wall and then hearing from the minds who created it was a special treat.
If you’re a cinephile, a tourist, in a relationship, or just out on a date, check out Rooftop Films. The highrise rooftop indie film experience feels uniquely New York and offers a chance to take your couch date outdoors in a manner you can’t replicate elsewhere. Films continue through the summer and can be found on the Rooftop Films website.