Stockade, a feature film from local writer-director Eric McGinty in conjunction with producer and executive producer Anna Sang Park, captures the commodification of New York and the lengths that commodification can make someone go to to feel more rooted in the city.

The film, a character-driven thriller, follows Lebanese painter Ahlam (portrayed by Sarah Bitar in her feature debut) who lives in Greenpoint and is facing difficulties both financially and with her artist visa and agrees to deliver a package upstate for a college professor (Guy de Lancey, who is also the production’s director of photography) in hopes of bettering her situation. The events that follow include unexpected consequences, increasingly menacing characters, and a perspective on antiquities trafficking.

McGinty and Park, a couple and longtime Williamsburg residents who also run local production company Veronique Films (which is behind Stockade), call the film an “immigrant noir,” which McGinty describes as pertaining to “narratives focused on characters who come from other countries and find themselves in often dire circumstances due to slow-churning gears of the immigration system, human greed — or simply their vulnerability as outsiders in a world ruled by unfamiliar principles.”

“As a child of a French mother and an American father, I always felt a strong connection to such underrepresented voices,” McGinty continues. “This film, influenced by filmmakers such as the Dardenne Brothers and David Lynch, was born out of my longstanding interest in the illegal trade in antiquities, especially those of Middle Eastern origin.” Lead actress Bitar, who herself is from Lebanon and was working through visa issues until recently, also offered a lot of first-person perspective to the film.

“I was really interested in putting an immigrant artist at the center of the film,” McGinty explained. “Often these immigrant characters in films are like a sidekick or some sort of peripheral character, where here I wanted to make her the central character.”


And by doing so, McGinty and Park also wanted to pay unique homage to the immigrant history of the city, specifically Greenpoint and other neighborhoods where filming took place, like Astoria.

“Now that Greenpoint is so desirable, so many people forget about the refineries that were here, and how much of it was industrial — it’s a community of immigrants who founded the neighborhood,” Park said. “We are paying homage to the community of immigrants that came before us, ’cause it is an immigrant-centered story. Above all its fucked-up-ness, New York City is still a city of dreamers. And that is a celebration that we’re also very much honoring.”

The film was shot in about 20 non-continuous days between two shoots (in the city and upstate) with a small-but-mighty team, and locals will be able to recognize shots of Guernsey Street, Manhattan Avenue, and the vastly-developing area that connects Greenpoint and Williamsburg around Wythe and Kent.

Stockade will celebrate its New York City premiere at the Queens World Film Festival on Saturday, April 27, at 5:30 p.m. at the Museum of the Moving Image’s Redstone Theater. The film is also nominated for Best Narrative Feature, Best Director, Best Narrative Feature Screenplay, Best Female Actor (Sarah Bitar), and Best Ensemble in the festival.

Get tickets to the screening here.

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