Michael Potts and Samira Wiley in “37”

Opening the competition of this year’s 38th Moscow International Film Festival today (running from June 23 to June 30), is “37” by Danish director Puk Grasten, which follows the lives of a group of families living in the Kew Gardens neighborhood of Queens, NYC, in the 1960s, who failed to react and come to her aid when they witnessed the the brutal murder and rape of Kitty Genovese. The film peeks into the lives of three disparate families, all living in the neighborhood, and all witnesses to the horrible crime. The film seeks to understand their decisions not to act by understanding their day-to-day struggles.

Genovese was was stabbed to death by Winston Moseley near her home in Kew Gardens, on March 13, 1964. The alleged lack of intervention from her neighbors during the stabbing, became a story. In fact, their unresponsiveness would become a psychological paradigm, prompting an investigation into what was diagnosed as a social psychological phenomenon that has come to be known as the bystander effect or “Genovese syndrome.”

Marquise Gary in “37”

Moseley was arrested, tried, found guilty and sentenced to death a few months later. Although his death sentence was later reduced to life imprisonment on the grounds that he had not been allowed to argue during the trial that he was “medically insane.”

Samira Wiley of “Orange Is the New Black” fame leads an ensemble cast also includes Michael Potts and Marquise Gary as one of the 3 families in focus in the film known as the Smiths: Joyce (Wiley), her husband Archibald (Potts) and their son Troy (Gary).

The Smiths are new to the neighborhood, and they don’t fit in. Fleeing the race riots and tensions in Harlem in pursuit of a better life for themselves and their children (they have one, and she’s pregnant with a second child), Archibald and Joyce have moved into an apartment left vacant by a Jewish couple who died in the apartment.

Samira Wiley, Michael Potts and Marquise Gary in “37”

The rest of the ensemble cast includes Christina Brucato, Jamie Harrold, Maria Dizzia, Evan Fine, Thomas Kopache, Sophia Lillis, Lucy Martin and Adrian Martinez.

Puk Grasten is making her feature directorial debut with “37.” She actually directed a short version 3 years ago to use to help raise financing for the feature.

Asger Hussain and Yaron Schwartzman of Game 7 Films are producers, with Regner Grasten and Tove Grasten of Regner Grasten Film executive producing.

The film opens the 38th Moscow International Film Festival which kicked off today, June 23, and runs through June 30. It’s only its second screening, after making its world premiere at the Göteborg International Film Festival in Sweden, in February.

No trailer yet; but there are a few still images available, embedded within this post.

You can read more about the film, and see more images on its website here.