Movies do not get much more “Brooklyn” than “En el Séptimo Día” (“On the Seventh Day”), which marks the return to feature filmmaking of the accomplished New York writer-director Jim McKay after more than a decade spent in television.
Yet it’s not the borough of “Girls” or “Search Party,” or any of the trendy works that in recent years have shaped the popular image of Kings County in recent years.
The naturalistic movie is cast with actors McKay (“Our Song,” another seminal Brooklyn movie) recruited on the street and filmed in locations such as Sunset Park, Park Slope and Gowanus.
It focuses on an undocumented Mexican immigrant named José (Fernando Cardona), who works as a deliveryman for a restaurant, and considers the dilemma he faces when his professional obligations mean he might have to abandon his soccer team for a major game in Sunset Park.
So it’s a different Brooklyn than the conventional pop culture norm, and one that’s taken on a special degree of topical significance in the Trump era.
McKay acknowledges the renewed relevance of the story but says he didn’t set out to make a political movie.
“Had the film been a more didactically political movie and possibly more in a certain moment, the change, the radical change in how we’re seeing immigration policies move in recent times would have more of an effect on it,” McKay says. “… The desire on my part was simply to put this story up on a screen, picturing groups of people that we often refer to as invisible. ”
The aim is to offer something of a corrective, McKay adds, to the frequent historical technique of Hollywood movies showcasing foreign worlds and cultures through the eyes of Americans.
“I can’t travel everywhere in the world, but through books and movies, I can to some degree,” he says. “… Trying to create a story [where] people could connect the dots and go, ‘I see myself in him.’ ”
Currently showing at BAM and the IFC Center, the movie has been rapturously received by critics and film festival audiences. Local viewers and film critics probably as a whole are sympathetic to the movie’s mission. McKay says he hasn’t yet had the opportunity to bring the picture to the sort of places that might need to see it. He hopes to have the opportunity to do so and to perhaps change minds in the process.
“If someone comes in with an open mind, whatever their politics, I would hope they would just follow the story and certain things might just fall away in the course of that,” he says.