Watching a movie outdoors is cool, right? That’s why drive-ins still exist.

But what if you could watch movies outdoors, someplace up high? Someplace where you could look down at the city below or out to the ocean as well as up to the stars?

You can in Portland, at the Rooftop Film series held throughout the summer and early fall by MENSK, a non-profit volunteer arts group.

Once a month, MENSK, with the help of lots of sponsors, sets up a film showing on the top of the Spring Street parking garage near the Cumberland County Civic Center.

First, the group shows a local movie as a way to get folks to learn about the local filmmaking industry. Then it’s time for a feature, something fun or nostalgic or otherwise worthy of being seen outdoors and up high.

The next rooftop film night is 8 p.m. Sunday and features the 1985 flick “Teen Wolf” with Michael J. Fox in the title role. People are invited to bring things to sit or lie on.

“Last month, we showed ‘Up,’ and we had families bring air mattresses,” said Louisa Donelson, a MENSK board member.

Now that’s cool — lying on an air mattress under the stars, up on a roof, to watch a movie about an elderly man and a young boy in a house floating away on a grand adventure.

Donelson says the idea for a rooftop movie came from a MENSK board member who saw a rooftop film in Brooklyn, N.Y., and thought it would be something Portlanders might embrace as well. The garage used for the series on Spring Street has nice views of Portland Harbor, not to mention downtown Portland.

MENSK, by the way, doesn’t stand for anything. It comes from an old English word that basically means “me thinks.”

So in keeping with that idea, the organizers of the rooftop films always add a local film to the bill that might make people think. On Sunday, the local film will be a documentary, “Portland Inside/Out: A Local Global Art Project” by No Umbrella Media.

The film is about a “public engagement project” by students of Maine College of Art and members of TEDxDirigo. The project focused on portraits of, and quotes from, everyday folks displayed on posters or banners around the city.

After “Teen Wolf,” the next rooftop film will be 7 p.m. Sept. 16, with “The Royal Tenenbaums” as the feature. In the winter, MENSK hopes to find some unique indoor space to show movies. (What place might that be? In a sub-basement somewhere? In a giant snow fort?)

Organizers hope people who attend the rooftop films will enjoy seeing a different perspective.

Not to mention the view from the roof.

“People don’t normally spend a lot of time on the roof of a parking garage, but why not?” said Donelson. “The views are great.”

In more ways than one.

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

[email protected]


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