This West Village hub of art house cinema continues its quest to promote new indie and underground releases, as well as a wide array of repertory selections. It remains the only autonomous nonprofit cinema in New York City. Selections this summer will include a tribute to silent film maestro Erich von Stroheim, including his Greed, The Merry Widow, Queen Kelly and Sunset Blvd. During the month of June, Film Forum will run a tribute to spaghetti westerns programmed by Giulia D’Agnolo Vallan and Bruce Goldstein. Flicks will include Death Rides a Horse, Django, The Big Gundown and the Man with No Name trilogy.
This downtown mecca for independent feature films, documentaries and short films offers several series for cinephiles this summer. Short Attention Span Cinema: Films from the New York Times’ Op-Docs will play short opinion documentaries covering events both historical and current, with a special evening screening with filmmakers and guests from the Times’ editorial staff to be scheduled for June. Additionally, the Queer/Art/Film spring/summer series, curated by Adam Baran and Ira Sachs, continues, including Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom, I Could Go On Singing and Rope. Ifccenter.com
Movie Nights on the Elevated Acre
A few select Monday evenings this summer, New Yorkers can climb up to the Elevated Acre to catch free outdoor films. The first screening, on June 18, is of Stella Days, a new film starring Martin Sheen as a priest in 1950s Ireland who struggles to reconcile a modernizing country with its cultural and religious traditions when he brings electricity and Hollywood to his small town. June 25, Collaborator, starring Martin Donovan and David Morse, brings two childhood pals with different lives into a violently tense hostage situation; the film is Donovan’s writing and directing debut. The final installment, July 9, is Side by Side, a documentary that follows Keanu Reeves through the history of cinema as he interview Hollywood icons like James Cameron, David Fincher, David Lynch, Christopher Nolan, Martin Scorsese, George Lucas and Steven Soderbergh.
June 25-July 9, seating opens at 6 p.m., films begin at 8 p.m. or sunset. The Elevated Acre, 55 Water St., rivertorivernyc.com/events/film.
Movies Under the Stars in Riverside Park
As usual, Bryant Park’s summer film schedule features a slate of timeless classics. But let’s face it: That lawn is too damn crowded. Fortunately, for those who’d prefer not to trip over a dude in a bowler hat and miss the climax as we search for our blanket whenever we use the Port-a-Potty, there are a number of other city parks with outdoor films. Most notable is Pier 1 in Riverside Park, which follows up its invasion film-themed 2011 with an eclectic mix that includes Cinema Paradiso (July 11), Amélie (Aug. 1) and Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (Aug. 8). Chairs await you, and you won’t need to arrive four hours early to snatch one.
Wednesday evenings, July 11-Aug. 15, 8:30 p.m.; free. Pier 1, Riverside Park South, 70th St. at the Hudson River, riversidepark.org.
Upper West Side
Getting psyched for Prometheus, Ridley Scott’s maybe-prequel to his classic 1979 space horror film, Alien? May 25-June 3, the Film Society pays tribute to the 74-year-old director with a retrospective of his versatile career. Past and Prologue: The Films of Ridley Scott will present a complete inventory of his work, including Blade Runner and the three movies that earned him Oscar nods: Thelma & Louise, Gladiator and Black Hawk Down. Also, in preparation for the 50th annual New York Film Festival this fall, the Society will take a look back at highlights from the first 49 years. Films include Gates of Heaven, The Last Metro, My Own Private Idaho and Hoop Dreams.
50 Years of the New York Film Festival
One of the world’s premier film festivals, the NYFF is leaping into its 50th year with a series of screenings showcasing the most important movies from years past, from memorable mainstream successes like 1993’s The Piano to lesser-known gems such as the 1994 flick Lamerica, about Italian con men in Albania. The 50th edition of the fest kicks off in late September, but there’s no better way to prepare yourself than with these screenings—and perhaps some afternoon sunbathing on Lincoln Center’s divine Illumination Lawn.
Ongoing, locations and times vary; $13. filmlinc.com
French Institute Alliance Cinema
The annual Films on the Green series, celebrating French and American literature brought to the big screen, is presented by French Institute:Alliance Française and never fails to inject a bit of joie de vivre into the summer film scene. This year’s movies, screening in parks around the city beginning June 1, include OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies, a spy film parody from Michel Hazanavicius—the Academy Award-winning director of The Artist—as well as the cult favorite animated film Persepolis and the Truffaut classic Jules et Jim. Packing a baguette and some brie is practically mandatory.
Rooftop Film Festival
The Rooftop Film Festival kicked off its 16th year of “Underground Movies Outdoors” on May 11 with a collection of the best new short films from around the world. Be the first of your friends to see one of the many independent films that are being premiered at the festival. Venues include the Old American Can Factory in Brooklyn, Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens and Solar One, a solar-powered arts center in Kips Bay. Movies are preceded by live music and followed by a Q & A with directors and an after-party.
Through Aug. 18; $12. rooftopfilms.org.
HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival
Now in its 20th year, this film festival in the heart of Midtown will feature a fun slate of classic and more recent films that will compete with blocks of glittering skyscrapers for your attention. Kicking off with Alfred Hitchcock’s legendary Psycho, the fest will include screenings of The Wizard of Oz, Roman Holiday, Rebel Without a Cause, All About Eve and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Keep in mind that this series features some of the more competitive seating in town, so get there early and plan to be cozy with your neighbors.
June 18-Aug. 20, films start at sunset. Bryant Park, enter at E. 40th St. & 5th Ave. bryantpark.org.
Intrepid Museum Summer Movie Series
Spending a summer evening aboard the magnificent ship Intrepid is draw enough, but throw in some crowd-pleasing military-themed movies, and it becomes a must-see. On Friday, May 25, bring your aviators, decide who in your group is Maverick and who is Iceman and memorize the lyrics to “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling,” because the series kicks off with Top Gun. Subsequent screenings include Spider-Man (that one from way back in 2002), the J.J. Abrams-directed Star Trek, Jason Segal in The Muppets and everlastingly glorious classics Jurassic Park and The Goonies. Films start at sunset on the Flight Deck, but come early for prime seating.
May 25-Aug. 17, 7:30 p.m.; free. The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, Pier 86, W. 46th St. & 12th Ave., intrepidmuseum.org.
New York Asian Film Festival
This self-described “two-week orgy of popular Asian cinema” celebrates its 11th year this summer. Highlights include the opening night screening of director Pang Ho-Cheung’s Vulgaria, a movie about movie-making that was shot in only 12 days and revolves around gangsters, lawyers, the sex film industry and all manner of sleazy fun; the director himself will be attending. Korean action director Chung Chang-Wha will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award. His 1972 movie Five Fingers of Death, which will be shown at the festival, launched the American kung-fu obsession when it was one of the first Asian films to find Western success.
June 29-July 12; $13. Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center, 165 W. 65th St., and The Japan Society, 333 E. 47th St., facebook.com/nyaff.
Upper East Side
Central Park Film Festival
Now in its 10th year, this festival is known for pairing themed movies—past favorites have included Coal Miner’s Daughter and Dreamgirls—with live DJs for a week every August. The gates around Rumsey Playfield open at 6:30 and visitors are free to relax and frolic—no glass bottles!—until the screenings begin. The roster for this year’s fest has yet to be announced, but there’s rarely a bad pick in the bunch; with a whole summer guide’s worth of things to do, who knows how much time you’ll even have left in your schedule.
Aug. 21-25; films start at 8. Rumsey Playfield in Central Park, enter at E. 69th St. & 5th Ave., centralparknyc.org.
Upper West Side
Manhattan Film Festival
The MFF is in its sixth year as a festival and its second year as a forum for indie filmmakers to actually make some dollar bills off their work. Fifty percent of ticket sales go right back to the filmmakers, so they can hopefully continue to make awesome independent movies instead of working at Starbucks. The lineup is still being created, but highlights from last year include Under Jakob’s Ladder, which won for best period piece and best actor, based on the true story of a chess game that led years later to the captivity and torture of its victor in a Soviet detention camp. Winner for best dramatic feature, White Irish Drinkers centers on two brothers in 1975 Brooklyn who plot to rob a theater during a Rolling Stones concert. It’s safe to say you can expect some interesting on-screen scenarios again this year, plus the knowledge that your ticket is directly supporting the filmmakers.
June 21–July 1. manhattanfilmfestival.org.
Sunshine at Midnight at Landmark Sunshine
Landmark’s Sunshine Cinema is a consistently cool place to see movies both underrated and wildly popular. In addition to their excellent concessions menu (vegan sweets, pizza-stuffed pretzels, Peet’s Coffee), they’re holding midnight screenings of a grab bag of favorites almost every weekend this summer. Flicks to catch include Raiders of the Lost Ark, Zoolander (which promises special guests), Rosemary’s Baby, A Nightmare on Elm Street and Duck Soup. The most amazing part of the series has to be The Room, which runs Saturday, June 2, as well as Aug. 3 & 4, when director/writer/star Tommy Wiseau will be there in the flesh. The film has become a cult classic, and Wiseau has attempted to market it as a “black comedy,” which may be accurate now but clearly wasn’t the intention when the film was made. It’s so excruciatingly bad that it guarantees a hilariously good time. Bring friends and be prepared to say, “Wait, are they serious?” at least 90 times during the first half-hour of the movie.
$10. Sunshine Cinema, 143 E. Houston St., landmarktheatres.com.
Upper West Side
Museum of Arts & Design
This is the place to go for random screenings of strange movies from the ’80s, like the June 15 showing of Mother’s Day (on Father’s Day, natch), a low-budget Charles Kaufman film about a trio of ladies on a camping trip who are kidnapped by a pair of sadistic brothers led by their deranged mom. Good summer fun! Or check out Hellroller on June 22, about a serial killer confined to a wheelchair who doesn’t let his disability get in the way of his passion for slaughter. If horror isn’t to your taste, see Steven Soderbergh’s Sex, Lies, and Videotape screens on June 21 or Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story on June 28, or catch any of the curated series (like the one of “videos exploring inter-dimensional travel”) in July.
$10. 2 Columbus Circle, madmuseum.org.
Tags: Central Park, Central Park Film Festival, Columbus Circle, Landmark’s Sunshine Cinema, Lincoln Center, Manhattan Film Festival, Museum of Arts & Design, New York Asian Film Festival, Rumsey Playfield, Summer Guide, The Japan Society, Walter Reade Theater
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