Indie films coming to a rooftop near you
By Ally Marotti
THE ROOFTOPS OF CHICAGO ARE YIELDING SOME UNTAPPED POTENTIAL.
“The idea is to show movies all across the city,” said Eddie Linker, who has produced independent films such as “Happy Christmas” and “Digging for Fire.”
Elevated Films plans to tap into those possibilities and screen independent films on rooftops throughout the city soon. The nonprofit, which local independent filmmaker Eddie Linker and his wife, Susie, started a few months ago, will work with the Lincoln Park Whole Foods at 1550 N. Kingsbury St. this summer and hopes to expand next year.
Elevated Films' first independent screenings are set for Aug. 5 and 12. The movies have not been finalized, but Susie Linker said the screenings will focus on indie films that have found success at film festivals such as Sundance.
The idea mirrors the mission of New York City's Rooftop Films, another nonprofit that aims to increase access to indie movies and raise money for arts programs. The couple fell in love with the idea.
“We had a couple of our own movies show in New York at their Rooftop Films and we thought, Chicago needs this,” Susie Linker said. “This is the perfect venue for us to host and bring awareness to indie films.”
Susie Linker, a former investment banker who recently left Wall Street for the nonprofit world, is passionate about the fundraising side of the organization. Entrance to the screenings will be $15 (though that could change as the screening date gets closer), which will help defer operating expenses. Net profits will be donated to youth arts programs in the city.
Tickets will be sold through EventBrite in the next few weeks, Susie Linker said. She expects about 400 tickets will be available for the shows, and chairs will be provided.
Alex Anderson, a marketing and community relations specialist at Whole Foods Market who is working with the Linkers on the project, said the 78,000-square-foot rooftop at the Lincoln Park Whole Foods can fit hundreds of moviegoers.
Whole Foods has partnered with other organizations to screen movies on its rooftop. Last year, it worked with Fort Collins, Colo.-based New Belgium Brewing to screen “Wayne's World.”
“When we did 'Wayne's World' last year, we had about 350 to 400 people come out. We had seating for 500 set up, and that only took up about an eighth of the rooftop,” which is three stories high, Anderson said. “It's great because we are right on the Chicago River. There's nothing really obstructing the view nearby. You get a whole view of the city.”
Whole Foods plans to sell and give samples of snacks and drinks during the screenings. Doors will open around 7 p.m., and local bands likely will play during setup. The movie will start just after sundown.
Elevated Films Chicago also is set to partner with Ann Taylor Loft and Rooftop Films for three screenings in July.
It'll be a good test run for Elevated Films Chicago, as the Loft series screenings will also be held on Whole Foods' roof, Susie Linker said. The films will be a little more mainstream than the films Elevated will show.
“Bridesmaids” is scheduled for July 8, “Ghost World” on July 15 and “When Harry Met Sally” on July 22. Those screenings, which start around sundown, will be free and do not require advance tickets.
Other outdoor movie screenings in Chicago include the annual series, which is in its 15th year and features more than 240 outdoor movie showings in Chicago's parks, and the Millennium Park Summer Film Series, which screens a movie at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion at 6:30 p.m. every Tuesday from June 23 through Sept. 1. Both are free.