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Rooftop Cinema Returns to MMoCA’s Rooftop Sculpture Garden

people seated on the Rooftop Sculpture Garden enjoying an outdoor film screening
Photo by Sharon Vanorny.

Rooftop Cinema Returns to the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art’s Rooftop Sculpture Garden Press Release

MADISON, WI–Rooftop Cinema, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art’s (MMoCA’s) popular outdoor film series, returns this August with four critically acclaimed films. Screenings take place in the Museum’s Rooftop Sculpture Garden, where audience members can place their camp chairs or blankets and settle in for movies under the stars. Films begin at sundown, approximately 8 PM.

Admission is $7 per screening, and free for MMoCA members and those 18 and younger. Tickets are available for sale on the Rooftop starting at 7:30 PM the night of each show. Screenings relocate to the MMoCA Lecture Hall if rain is predicted.

This year’s lineup features three films produced in the US, and one produced in the UK.

film still showing an older person wearing trousers and a suit blazer standing in front of a building, with a television screen on the exterior that reads "to take courageous steps for freedom today"
Film still from The American Sector (2020) directed by Courtney Stephens and Pacho Velez. Image courtesy of Grasshopper Film.

Thursday, August 4, 8 PM: The American Sector

Courtney Stephens, Pacho Velez | USA | 2020 | 69 minutes

Acclaimed documentarians Courtney Stephens and Pacho Velez (Manakamana, The Reagan Show) explore how the preservation and display of relics from the Cold War era can inform us about current American culture and politics. Stephens and Velez visit sections of the Berlin Wall on display in over 75 locations across the United States, ranging from the serious (Fort Benning, Georgia) to the bizarre (a casino in Las Vegas).

“An exemplary work of cinema as political action. A film that powerfully evokes the active presence of history in daily civic life—and reveals the politics that inhere in its commemoration. Yields extraordinary results through audacious methods.” – Richard Brody, The New Yorker

Learn more about this film on the distributor’s website.

Singer Poly Styrene singing into a microphone on stage, wearing a suit blazer or jacket
Film still from Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché (2021) directed by Celeste Bell and Paul Sng. Image courtesy of Kino Library.

Thursday, August 11, 8 PM: Poly Styrene: I Am a Cliché

Celeste Bell, Paul Sng | UK | 2021 | 96 minutes

Poly Styrene was the first woman of color in England to front a successful rock band, X-Ray Specs. She introduced the world to a new sound of rebellion, using her unconventional voice to sing about identity, consumerism, and everything she saw unfolding in late 1970s Britain. Misogyny, racism, and mental illness plagued Poly’s life, scarring her relationship with her daughter Celeste, who became the unwitting guardian of her mother’s legacy. Celeste examines her mother’s diaries and a previously unopened artistic archive to better understand Poly the icon and Poly the mother.

“More than a journeyman rockumentary, Poly Styrene is a thoughtfully finessed filial reckoning: a daughter’s journey toward understanding her mother as a young artist and as a young woman of color.” –Lisa Kennedy, New York Times

film still showing a person's face with metal textures over-layed on their face
Film still from The Village Detective: a song cycle (2021) directed by Bill Morrison. Image courtesy of Kino Lorber.

Thursday, August 25, 8 PM: The Village Detective: a song cycle

Bill Morrison | USA | 2021 | 81 minutes

In 2016, a fishing boat off the shores of Iceland caught four reels of 35mm film, seemingly of Soviet provenance, in its nets. The discovery wasn’t a lost work of major importance, but an incomplete print of a popular Soviet comedy from 1969, starring the beloved Russian actor Mihail Žarov. Bill Morrison, whose previous films Decasia and Dawson City: Frozen Time utilize lost, deteriorating footage, believes that the water-damaged print can be seen as a fitting reflection on the film work of Žarov, who re-emerges from the bottom of the sea 50 years later like a Russian Rip Van Winkle. Morrison uses the discovery as a jumping off point for his latest meditation on cinema’s past.

“Morrison’s movies feel like half-remembered reveries formed from memories you can no longer consciously recall. Hovering at the intersection of reappropriation, preservation, history, music, and art, any one of his works will haunt you for the rest of your life.” –Dan Schindel, Hyperallergic

Watch the official trailer.

Press: New York Times, NPR, Rolling Stone

person walking, wearing a winder jacket, jeans, and boots walking along a wall with a mural of the star portion of the American flag
Film still from North by Current (2021) directed by Angelo Madsen Minax. Image courtesy of Grasshopper Film.

Thursday, September 1, 8 PM: North by Current

Angelo Madsen Minax | USA | 2021 | 86 minutes

North by Current is a visual rumination on the understated relationships between mothers and children, truths and myths, losses and gains. After the inconclusive death of his young niece, filmmaker Angelo Madsen Minax returns to his rural Michigan hometown, preparing to make a film about a broken criminal justice system. Instead, he pivots to excavate the depths of generational addiction, Christian fervor, and trans embodiment. Lyrically assembled images, decades of home movies, and ethereal narration form an idiosyncratic and poetic undertow that guide a viewer through lifetimes and relationships. Like the relentless Michigan seasons, the meaning of family shifts, as Madsen, his sister, and his parents strive tirelessly to accept each other. North by Current was featured on the prestigious PBS documentary series P.O.V., and won the Jury Award for Best Documentary at the Milwaukee Film Festival.

“This kind of personal film has often been attempted (even before Tarnation made waves), but rarely with this insight…Out of the fractured family documentary, what emerges finally is a drama of self-realization. –Nicolas Rapold, New York Times

Press: New York Times, NPR, Rolling Stone

About MMoCA

The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art’s galleries are always admission-free. The Museum’s vision is to be an organization that fosters the exchange of ideas and creates experiences that will inspire a wide audience; be a nexus for the work of emerging and established regional, national, and international artists; serve as a catalyst for the continued development of a vigorous community of artists; and provide a forum that will encourage people to be challenged by, reflect on, and make connections between art and the world around them.

The Museum includes four galleries and The Shop, a space to provide interactive contemporary art experiences and educational workshops to the community. The Museum’s Rooftop Sculpture Garden provides an urban oasis with an incredible view, making it a lovely setting for cinema, weddings and milestone events, and more. Please visit to learn more.