Rooftop Films @ Sundance: Traveling Light to Park City

Mark Elijah Rosenberg is the Founder & Artistic Director of Rooftop Films, one of the most dynamic film festivals in the world. In 2009, they’ll screen more than 20 feature films, almost all of which are New York, U.S. or World Premieres. They’ll also show over 150 short films in themed programs which have received accolades for being smart, entertaining, and filled with astonishing movies. This combination of brilliant, original programming and stunning outdoor venues makes Rooftop Films one of the best-attended film festivals in New York. Expect updates from Rosenberg and the Rooftop team throughout Sundance.

Another year, another trip to Park City, Utah, another trip somewhere else for my luggage. Two years ago my bag — including my boots, sweaters, winter coat — went on a lovely trip to Honolulu. Ironic. This year it would seem that my bag has gone to Detroit, where at least it would be useful if the TSA ends up giving it away. Fortunately, this time I had the foresight to bring warm clothes and my phone charger on the plane. Part of the challenge of Sundance is the location, so I guess this should be considered part of the charm, too. Sure would be easier at a warm-weather festival.

Dan Nuxoll [Rooftop’s Program Director] and I got in late after a nightmare travel day (a couple degrees better than the people who ended up in the Hudson yesterday), and though most people in our house were wiped out, we both needed to run. Well, that’s how we felt. Instead, we went to the IndieWire house party, with chili by James Israel and corn bread from Eugene Hernandez. Very welcoming after a long day of airplane peanuts.

I had a quick conversation with Joshua Marston, who directed Maria Full of Grace and a short film called Bus To Queens, which we screened at Rooftop way back in 1998 or ’99 (before we had a Web site, thus making it hard to confirm the exact year). It was good to reconnect with him, as he’s here pitching a couple different screenplays.

Friday morning, the films started early — an 8:30am showing of Johnny Mad Dog, a narrative film about child soldiers in Liberia, and a pretty shocking way to start your morning. I’ll do my best to write reviews of the films I see, with some special notes on stuff you could only get here at the festivals: director Q & As, personal conversations with filmmakers, behind-the-scenes news.

Stay tuned…