Roof To Roof

Director: Ara Corbett
Screenwriters: Ara Corbett

Institute History

  • 2001 Sundance Film Festival


In its purest form, cinema is about people and emotions. It can provide a powerful means to relay the various human concepts of struggle, hope, sacrifice and love—words that in fact embody many immigrants' stories. This is why the beautiful simplicity of the filmmaking in Roof to Roof is the perfect way to deliver a delicately destructive portrait of an Armenian immigrant family trying to make it in America.

Writer/director Ara Corbett elegantly chronicles the trials and tribulations of a single father, Zaven, and his seven-year-old daughter, Amy, as they adjust to their new life, constantly in pursuit of a dream that is losing its luster with each painful step they take toward attaining it. For Zaven to maintain his job as a gas station mechanic, he must pass the state emissions test in a language he is still struggling to understand. The only thing he wants in life is to see Amy happy. He watches sadly as she becomes enamored with the lifestyle of his sister, who has married into money and can seemingly provide a more stable home for Amy. Zaven realizes with painful irony that doing what is best for Amy may well mean losing her.

Roof to Roof exudes devotion, passion, and an impressive ability to bring real life to the fictional screen. It is more about ambience and subtlety of character than it is about actions taken. Corbett has crafted an extremely moving and painfully honest depiction of the stumbling blocks many immigrants must face in their quest for success, as well as a blinding love between a father and a daughter.

— Trevor Groth

Screening Details

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