Cinema Guild has acquired “En el Septimo Dia,” Jim McKay’s acclaimed examination of the lives of undocumented Mexican immigrants. The title translates to “On the Seventh Day” and is a reference to the punishing hours its central characters work as dishwashers, deli workers, and cotton candy vendors. After laboring for six days, they have a day of rest on Sundays — it is a reprieve spent on the soccer fields of Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
“En el Septimo Dia” will open in New York on June 8 at IFC Center and Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Rose Cinemas. It’s McKay’s fifth feature after a 13-year absence from the big screen. His other credits include “Our Song” and “Girls Town,” and McKay has used his hiatus working on television shows such as “The Wire” and “The Good Wife.”
The film premiered as the centerpiece selection at BAMcinemaFest 2017 and made its overseas debut in the International Competition at the Locarno Film Festival in August. Variety’s Owen Gleiberman raved that the picture was “exquisitely crafted” and singled out the lead performance of Fernando Cardona as a highpoint.
“The new movie has a bone-deep humanity-that-transcends-technique that reaches right back to Cassavetes, yet it’s also exquisitely made: a micro-budget drama that’s less scrappy than classical,” Gleiberman wrote. “Each elegantly framed shot, every deftly observed moment expresses something organic and moving.”
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Cardona plays José, a bicycle delivery worker, who is the soccer team’s captain and leader. His team makes it to the finals, but his boss complicates matters when by demanding José work the following Sunday, the day of the match. José must choose between his job and the dignity and hopes of his teammates.
“We are so thrilled to be releasing ‘En el Septimo Dia,’” Cinema Guild director of distribution Peter Kelly said in a statement. “Jim McKay has given us a warm and thrilling New York story from a perspective we don’t see on screen often enough.”
Cinema Guild was founded by the Oscar-nominated producing team of Philip and Mary-Ann Hobel (“Tender Mercies”). It has established a name for itself producing indie features such as Hong Sangsoo’s “On the Beach at Night Alone,” Theo Anthony’s “Rat Film,” and Albert Serra’s “The Death of Louis XIV.” Its upcoming films include Sangsoo’s “Claire’s Camera and The Day After” and Valeska Grisebach’s “Western.”
“For years, I’ve sat in dark theaters and been mesmerized by Cinema Guild films from the likes of Hong Sangsoo, Jem Cohen, Tsai Ming-Liang, Steve James, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Maren Ade and others,” director Jim McKay said. “I am honored to be in their company and to be working with Cinema Guild to bring ‘En el Septimo Dia’ out into the world.”
“En el Septimo Dia” was produced by Caroline Kaplan, Alex Bach, Lindsey Cordero, Michael Stipe and McKay. The deal was negotiated by Peter Kelly of Cinema Guild and Jason Ishikawa of Cinetic Media.