District 26: a New York Election Story

In the waning days of New York City's lockdown during the Covid-19 pandemic, an unusually high number of candidates ran for city council in the 2021 local primary elections. In the 26th Council District in Queens, the most diverse borough and most diverse county in America, 15 candidates, the most of any district, representing a wide range of cultures and points of view, appeared on the Democratic ballot. The race came as Western Queens became known as a progressive hotbed with the rise of socialist elected officials such as Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and the local fight against Amazon's plans for a headquarters in the district. This film follows the campaigns in the last few weeks of the most crowded race.

  • Shannon Ayala
  • Shannon Ayala
  • Betsy Laikin
    Charm Circle
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 20 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    July 20, 2022
  • Production Budget:
    150 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography

Shannon Ayala is a journalist based in Queens, New York. He's covered local activism and politics in New York City for more than a decade, including as a producer at CUNY TV. He's a graduate of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and the City College of New York.

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Director Statement

I decided to document the final weeks of the city council primary race where I live in Queens, after meeting some of the many candidates. I wanted to capture the personalities that made this race so colorful and interesting, set against a backdrop of a dramatic council district where the inequalities and diversity of New York City are so sharply epitomized. After an initial premier at the Queens World Film Festival in 2022, District 26, recut and shorter, is now being introduced to a broader audience.