I love Toronto with all my heart, but life in the 6ix isn’t without its drawbacks. Chiefly, the weather. Forget about the phrase “Winter is coming,” because in Toronto, winter refuses to leave. So when the summer sun finally returns, the last thing people want to do is spend their days in a dark, crowded movie theatre. Toronto’s Open Roof Festival has film nerds’ backs, offering up the chance to kick it outside while taking in great summer flicks.
The Open Roof Festival (which is celebrating its tenth anniversary) is one of my favourite summertime spots. This year’s event goes down once a week starting on Wednesday, June 19th and ending on Wednesday, August 21st. Each event offers moviegoers a chance to head downtown to drink some beers, score delicious meals from food trucks, and catch a live band, before watching a fun summer flick.
The Open Roof Film festival is the perfect spot for date night or to get together with a group of friends. And their diverse lineup of films offers something for everybody. Although the full festival lineup isn’t complete, it already features a robust slate.
The weekly series kicks off with Jordan Peele’s mind-melting second feature Us — one of 2019’s most discussed releases and a film that demands a second viewing. I also recommend Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen’s romcom Long Shot. The picture’s two charming leads deliver a great pair of comedic performances that won over moviegoers and critics alike.
If you’re looking something little more, let’s say experimental, I suggest the wacky AF Matthew McConaughey film, The Beach Bum. I enjoyed The Beach Bum when I saw it a few months back. But as time passed, I’ve thought about the film’s characters and themes more and more. It’s definitely a picture I plan on returning to. And of course, I have to shout out a couple of Canadian indie darlings, Firecrackers, and Giant Little Ones, two films that won praise on the festival circuit.
Outdoor movie screenings have grown more popular in recent years, but nothing gives you more bang for your buck than the Open Roof Film Festival. Between the live bands, cold adult beverages, and great movie lineup, cinephiles couldn’t ask for a better night out on the town.
Programming for the tenth annual Open Roof Festival is below, with the final two films being announced in July!
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 19
Open Roof kicks off its tenth anniversary season with the classic soul and R&B sounds of YUKA, followed by a screening of Jordan Peele’s thought-provoking and ‘soon to be a horror classic’ film Us. The film stars Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o as Adelaide Wilson, a woman haunted by a traumatic experience from her past. Wilson returns to her beachside childhood home with her husband and two children only to have her worst fears become a reality when four masked strangers descend upon the house in the middle of the night. Vox called it “a thrilling, blood-curdling allegory about a self-destructing America,” Us is filled with a beautifully bizarre mix of pop culture references, dark humour and seat-jumping scares.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 26
FILM: THE BEACH BUM
Joyia, a modern female R&B songstress, will have ORF audiences entranced before Spring Breakers writer and director Harmony Korine turns the summer dial up to 420 with The Beach Bum. Starring Matthew McConaughey as the pot-fueled poet, Moondog, who stumbles through Florida in search of inspiration for his literary works. He might just write the Great American Novel…if he can stay away from his vices long enough. He’s joined by a colourful cast of characters including Snoop Dogg, Zac Efron, Isla Fisher, Jonah Hill and even Jimmy Buffett. The Beach Bum is an inspired high-art stoner comedy ready to take its place next to cult flicks like The Big Lebowski.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 3
MUSIC: SAM POLLEY & THE OLD TOMORROWS
Sam Polley & The Old Tomorrows warm up the stage with their take on ‘50s and ‘60s rockabilly licks, old country twang and Motown swing. Then, Jasmin Mozaffari’s debut feature Firecrackers is up– a powerful portrayal of two best friends’ who are desperate to leave their rural Ontario town. Their plan is derailed when a night of debauchery turns darker than they expected when a possessive ex-boyfriend assaults one of them, threatening both their friendship and their freedom. The films raw storytelling, searing energy and vibrant cinematography earned it critical raves as well as two Canadian Screen Awards for Directing and Editing. “Firecrackers is not nearly as casually joyful as its title suggests, but it is absolutely as incendiary.” (Globe and Mail)
WEDNESDAY, JULY 10
FILM: TEEN SPIRIT
MUSIC: THE HEAVYWEIGHTS BRASS BAND
ORF favourites The Heavyweights Brass Band will kick off the evening with some New Orleans Jazz-inspired musical stylings. After that, there’s more for music fans to rejoice in with Max Minghella’s stylish directorial debut, Teen Spirit. The film is a modern Cinderella story about 17-year-old Violet (Elle Fanning) a shy teenager who dreams of escaping her small town and pursuing her passion for singing. With the help of an unlikely mentor, she enters a local singing competition that will test her integrity, talent and ambition. Featuring a dance-able soundtrack with music by Ariana Grande, Robyn, Grimes, Tegan & Sara and more, Elle Fanning proves she has the singing chops while Minghella melds it all together with captivating music video style.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 17
FILM: GIANT LITTLE ONES
MUSIC: *TO BE ANNOUNCED SHORTLY!*
Keith Behrman’s sophomore feature film, Giant Little Ones, is a heartfelt and intimate coming-of-age story about friendship, self-discovery, and the power of love without labels. After a drunken encounter alters the dynamics of their long-standing friendship, Franky (Josh Wiggins) and his childhood pal Ballas (Darren Mann) engage in a feud that serves as an outlet for their respective powder kegs of repressed feelings. Shot in and around Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada, it stars rising talents Wiggins, Mann and Taylor Hickson alongside veteran actors Maria Bello, Kyle MacLachlan and Peter Outerbridge. “Giant Little Ones avoids the usual high school clichés, crafting an honest and nuanced 21st-century coming-out story.” (Winnipeg Free Press)
WEDNESDAY, JULY 24
MUSIC: FATHER CHRISTMAS
Four-piece psych-pop band Father Christmas kick the evening off with their genre-pushing sound followed by Push, the latest documentary from award-winning director Fredrik Gertten, investigating why people all over the world are struggling to live in their own cities. Across the globe, housing prices are skyrocketing and finding a place to live is becoming more and more difficult. In the GTA alone, the cost of homes has increased at nearly three times the rate of incomes. Enter Ottawa-based activist Leilani Farha, newly appointed UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing, who is fighting to define affordable housing as a fundamental human right. The film follows Farha, along with great thinkers like Joseph Stiglitz, Saskia Sassen and journalist Roberto Saviano, as she confronts the big business perpetrators who are putting profits ahead of the safety and security of the people.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 31
FILM: LONG SHOT
MUSIC: GHOST CAVERN
Toronto’s Ghost Cavern kicks off the night with a set that mixes electronic elements with live instruments for a sound that’s both cinematic and contemporary. The fun continues with Jonathan Levine’s new comedy Long Shot follows free-spirited journalist Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen) as he reconnects with his childhood crush Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron), a powerhouse diplomat preparing to make a run for the presidency. Against her team’s advice, she hires him as a speechwriter, and romantic sparks fly. Part-romantic comedy, part-political satire, the film crackles with romantic chemistry between Rogen and Theron. The superb supporting cast members include O’Shea Jackson Jr., June Diane Raphael, Alexander Skarsgård (playing non-other than the hunky Canadian PM) who all give the leads a comedic run for their money. “Forget about those real-life presidential types: Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen are a winning ticket that’ll actually make you feel good about politics, at least for two romantic and occasionally raunchy hours.” (USA Today)
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 7
FILM: THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM
The evening’s festivities kick off with Sauna who bring their post-punk influenced synth-driven sounds to the ORF stage for the first time. After that, we go on an eight-year journey with filmmaker and farmer John Chester and his wife, culinary writer Mary, as they trade big city living for 200-acres of barren farmland and a dream to harvest in harmony with nature in The Biggest Little Farm. Through dogged perseverance and embracing the opportunity provided by nature’s conflicts, the Chesters unlock and uncover a biodiverse design for living that exists far beyond their farm. Featuring breathtaking cinematography, adorable animals and an urgent message to heed Mother Nature’s call, The Biggest Little Farm gives a blueprint for healthier living in harmony with the planet. “It may…revive your wonder at the weird but ultimately awe-inspiring ways in which humans can help nature do its work.” (New York Times)
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 14
ANNOUNCEMENT COMING IN JULY!
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 21
ANNOUNCEMENT COMING IN JULY!
Tickets for the Open Roof Film Festival are on sale now for $15 each and can be purchased in advance through www.OpenRoofFestival.com.