Alfresco anything – from dining to dance parties – is at the heart of New York summers. And even though the calendar still says spring, one summer outdoor movie series is officially underway, spotlighting independent films at unlikely sites across the city.

Rooftop Films, a non-profit organisation dedicated to engaging diverse communities through cinema, is bringing a lineup of more than 100 flicks – features and shorts – to 17 locales in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx over 40 evenings through 17 August. Not your typical megaplex affair, screenings take place in parks, along the water and, as the name suggests, on rooftops, including a graffiti-walled space atop a Lower East Side school six flights up.

To be sure, many of the collaborating host locations for the summer series are as intriguing as the documentaries, dramas, comedies and animations being presented. Among the more unusual are a historic railroad barge moored in Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighbourhood, a geodesic dome at Rockaway Beach, a working farm in Queens and a bi-level pier that juts 500ft into the East River in lower Manhattan.

Most of the ticketed open-air evenings get underway with live music, include a Q&A session with filmmakers when possible and are capped off with an after party on-site or at a nearby bar.

Aside from the 10 free screenings on the schedule, admission is $13. Tickets are sold at the door and online, but events do sell out so advance purchase or membership is recommended.

Amy Brader is the New York City Localite for BBC Travel