The small, affluent town of Hilliard is rocked to its core following the brutal murder of a young boy. Heading the investigation, local detective Noah Cordin (Nick Stahl, In the Bedroom) follows a lead that takes him back to his hometown on the other side of Meskada County, Caswell, a town forced to the brink of destitution in the wake of the recession. As his investigation picks up intensity, Cordin is torn between old loyalties and new responsibilities, and the victim's grieving mother launches a battle of will and vengeance with the citizens of Caswell. The ensuing rift between these two vastly different communities in troubled rural America soon opens wide, igniting a full-on class war….
Writer/director Josh Sternfeld's (Winter Solstice, TFF '04) taut script depicts a quintessentially American story of tensions between the haves and the have-nots, using the detective genre as a springboard to examine deeper issues of class and community. Stahl gives a bravura performance as an archetypal American lawman—a man on the border between two worlds whose decisions will determine the fate of both.
Director's Statement Collapse
On Labor Day in 2005, I was at a friend's barbeque in the East Village. My first feature film Winter Solstice, which I'd been fortunate enough to have nationally released that spring, had just come out on DVD. A friend of mine asked what I was going to do next. I told her I was writing a police movie she smirked, wished me luck, and that was that.
From the time I was a little kid, I've been a huge fan of cop drama. I've always watched shows and movies like NYPD Blue, Se7en, Homicide, Serpico—completely fascinated by the detectives' lives on-screen, the tough and brash romance of people dedicating their lives to crime-fighting and justice. Of course, as a filmmaker, I wanted to approach this genre in my own way, a personal way. However, nothing could have prepared me for the long and amazing journey that rolled ahead of me.
As I began researching the story and characters, my mind continually drifted to a picture of America, a snapshot of small-town or frontier life we all associate with our nation's zeitgeist. As this picture began to emerge, I found myself researching our nation's history—brutal wars of land and territory, classes divided and forced into solidarity. All of this gathered force in my mind… and I began to write. And research. And write some more.
I watched a high school basketball game in Oregon, the cheers and thrills electrifying. I went to a City Council meeting in Reno, and saw a vicious exchange over a proposed auto plant. I spoke to a bartender in New Hampshire, who joked he has better business since the paper mill closed. I began to create characters in two towns; people bound by loyalty, family, community… and a battle born of circumstances beyond their control. A story of America.
Meskada will always be special in my heart, because I know it was this screenplay that made me a writer. Although I had made films before this one, and I will continue to make films after this is completed, the story of this film is a story of my growth as an artist.