Open Roof Films

Open Roof Films

With drive-ins going deadpool everywhere I look, there's nothing better than outdoor hot-weather screenings (especially since my "car" is actually a bike). Sitting under the stars (they're up there, really) to catch a flick is quintessential summer-in-the-city.

I checked out an Open Roof Films' event last night in the Amsterdam Brewery parking lot. This was the fourth film-and-music hybrid shindig hosted by the not-for-profit this year. Don't fret, though, you still have a few more chances to catch indie film at its finest before you're donning wool socks and fall colours again. ORF's mission is to provide access and support to independent Canadian and international artists. Each night, a musical act kicks off the event, giving the sunset its own soundtrack.

The latest in a surge of multimedia art events in Toronto, the idea isn't exactly a new one. In fact, the founders were inspired when they caught Lovers of Hate on a Lower East Side school roof at an event hosted by Rooftop Films New York. The very same piece was on the bill last night, following two short films.

Open Roof Films

While the evening ran relatively smoothly without the typical technical blunders associated with mobile events, ORF still may have a few kinks to iron out. The opening act was asked to "kill time" when the organizers weren't ready to move on to the next part of the evening. My musician friend, no stranger to live performance stress, frowned disapprovingly. Rusty old unrehearsed songs aren't the best way to end a set. But the boys of Alright Alright handled it with poise, whipping out an amped up Jackson 5 cover and rock-and-rolling with the punches. This foursome has the makings of a really decent band. Complete with a dynamic throwback-quality frontman and requisite charmingly awkward bassist, Alright Alright could use a little more experience under their belts but I'm already impressed.

Open Roof Films

At the end of the extended set, sound equipment was swapped for stools for an Inside The Actors Studio-style interview with Arab-Canadian director Ruba Nadda. She discussed her recent film Cairo Time (TIFF 2009's Best Canadian Feature Film) and upcoming projects. A Lit major, she mused about a possible book adaptation in her future.

Open Roof Films

With guests filling most of the folding chairs, plastic cups of Amsterdam Beer in hand, the films lit up the ample portable screen. A silent short, and a "making of" that suffered yet another kink (poor sound quality) were far better feature introductions than the onslaught of car and soft drink ads on mainstream screens. Lovers of Hate rolled (thankfully with better sound) almost obliterating Gardiner traffic noise. The American indie film by Bryan Poyser chugged along a little too slowly at times, but the script gave us reason enough not to sneak out. It had funny moments, and mostly great acting performances.

Open Roof Films

In terms of outdoor movies, the event did not disappoint. Even if the film isn't exactly your thing, the experience is worthwhile. Absorbing indie art against Toronto's chromatic cityscape couldn't make for a better summer evening. Don't let the daytime humidex fool you, though. It gets chilly! Pack a sweater but don't worry about snacks. Twitter buzz tells me that ORF's popcorn was some of "the best ever". Too bad we smuggled in corner store chips.

Open Roof Films

Photos by Dennis Marciniak. Disclosure: blogTO is a sponsor of Open Roof Films


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