New York proves to be the perfect setting for writer/director Maya Jasmin's laid back and breezy look at Oliver (Terence Schweizer) and Lena (Jasmin), two young adults living in a big city practically defined by the immigrant experience and an embrace of what it means to be a diverse community.
Lena is a struggling musician, her band's mostly free gigs seemingly unable to sway her from chasing big dreams in this bigger city. Oliver is an actor, or at least trying to be one, since he's settled down in a city where actors are a dime a dozen and he has yet to distinguish himself amongst the kaleidoscope of creativity that surrounds him.
The two have seen each other hanging out atop their across the street rooftops, exchanged pleasantries even, but they've mostly lived in their own worlds with their own challenges and their own anxieties about what it means to be young adults transplanted from other places and seemingly other worlds.
Jasmin's Dächer Meiner Stadt(Rooftops of my City) is a quiet little film, a celebration of what it means to be in America even if we as Americans seem to have forgotten that it's worth celebrating. Home is at the heart of Dächer Meiner Stadt(Rooftops of my City), what it means for Oliver and Lena and what it means for each of us. The two will eventually discover that they both speak German, a fact that serves as a bridge of sorts to an in-person meeting, this time on one rooftop, somewhat guarded authenticity building over Beck's beer and a common language.
Rather than turning in dazzling performances or aiming for something that's simply not there, both Schweizer and Jasmin shine precisely because they relax into their characters and allow their stories to unfold in comfortable ways. We learn, of course, that they are different people yet speak a common language. That is to be expected, yet there's a quiet little hope present in that common ground and in the bridge that gets built around it.
Dächer Meiner Stadt(Rooftops of my City) is already showing up on the indie film fest scene having picked up awards at IndieWorks, Largo Film Awards, Los Angeles CineFest, FilmStrip International Film Festival, and Strasberg Film Festival. It wouldn't be surprising to see others join the list.
Key Szost's original score captures the wandering wistfulness and meandering spirit of the film, while Shu Hirayama's lensing nicely captures the everyday urban beauty of the New York experience and the people who live it. Mostly though, Jasmin's fingerprints are all over this film and she makes it shine by listening to the vibrant beat of the human experience in the film's spoken dialogue and in those awkward yet meaningful silences.
For more information on Dächer Meiner Stadt(Rooftops of my City), visit the film's website linked to in the credits. Watch for it at a film festival near you.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic