The best way to catch a movie this summer // City Brief

Our city life reporter leaves Cineplex behind and heads to the Open Roof Festival

By Breann Kirincich

On Friday August 1st, 2014


If you’ve been meaning to catch that cool, indie flick you’ve heard so much about, check out some live music and get your fill of food and beer — all while taking in the Toronto skyline — then look no further, because the Open Roof Festival has it all. 

Co-founded in 2010 by four friends with a passion for the arts (including entertainment lawyer and former Precedent cover boy Jordan Nahmias) the festival plays a critically acclaimed film each week. Plus, each event features an up-and-coming band. The screenings are held at dusk every Thursday this the summer in the outdoor pavilion beside 99 Sudbury Street — technically it’s not a roof, but meh, semantics. In the event of rain, the festivities move indoors to 99 Sudbury. Tickets are $15, and the proceeds support Canadian independent film production and music communities. Food and drinks cost extra, but your wristband gets you to a free beer after the show at a number of fine watering holes within a stumbling-distance.   

I attended the event last Thursday to watch Ping Pong Summer, the coming-of-age tale of Rad Miracle, a Ping-Pong and hip-hop obsessed 13-year-old. Set in Ocean City, Maryland in the summer of 1985, Rad looks to win the heart of the prettiest girl in town by rising to the top of the local Ping-Pong ladder (think Napoleon Dynamite meets The Karate Kid). The film opened to rave reviews at Sundance, and features performances by Susan Sarandon as Ping-Pong guru “Randi Jammer” and Leah Thompson (yes, I’m talking about Caroline in the City). It was sweet, nostalgic and downright quirky. I loved it. 

Adding to the whimsical vibe, movie-goers could play Ping-Pong themselves at tables set up outside. As for the food, it consisted of ‘80s cafeteria favourites, like nachos and sloppy joes. There was even an old-school mini popcorn maker serving up individual portions of buttery goodness for $2 a pop. 

Musical accompaniment for the night was provided by Matrox, a Toronto trio of “robots from space,” who performed their self-described “Kraftwerk-esque” dance music in full robot garb. 

The crowd itself was chill. So chill, in fact, that when the projector experienced a “technical glitch” during a pivotal scene in the film, no one complained (save for a few, light-hearted heckles). Instead, everyone happily took a five-minute break, grabbed some more beer and stretched their legs. When the projector came back on, the crowd was pleasantly inebriated. Imagine that at your local AMC. 

Open Roof is a great way to unwind after a stressful day at the office, and a chance to meet other like-minded young professionals. It might even be a recipe for romance. There is, after all, something undeniably romantic about watching a film outdoors. The twinkling city lights. The unlikely musical ambience of the Go Train… 

But I digress. 

Go and grab some tickets for this week’s screening. And if your inner cinephile just can’t get enough of watching films al fresco, check out this list (made by someone awesome with way too much time on her hands) of other films being screened outdoors at venues across the city this summer.

Breann Kirincich is the vice president of legal & compliance at BlackRock who maintains an active blog on the side. She enjoys cereal, Pinot Grigio and making dated SNL references, in that order.