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Malcolm David Kelley,
Brooklyn Castle is a documentary about I.S. 318 - an inner-city school where more than 65 percent of students are from homes with incomes below the federal poverty level - that also happens to have the best, most winning junior high school chess team in the country. (If Albert Einstein, who was rated 1800, were to join the team, he'd only rank fifth best). Chess has transformed the school from one cited in 2003 as a "school in need of improvement" to one of New York City's best. But a series of recession-driven pubic school budget cuts now threaten to undermine those hard-won successes.Written by
545th Review: Solid educational documentary with good lift
Brooklyn Castle takes a fascinating look at the success of I318 School in Brooklyn - a middle school that has consistently produced chess champions.
It asks how and why and also looks at the wider general issue of how funding is slashing such programs. As with any documentary connecting with both the subject and its protagonists is vital - and here that works - 12 years olds are notorious for being either extrovert to the point of annoying or introvert to the point of silence - but here the balance is just the right side of cool - and it's easy to be swept up in the tales.
It works best when showing the tournaments and the chess, and really while the parents' interviews are OK they're not adding to the tale that much. BC is slightly long and more editing would have helped a lot - at times your attention wanders, but it is saved by a very strong story.
In addition, there are moments which are wholly captivating - and lift the film - this is a film which does inspire, and makes us believe that great teachers and good teaching can give kids who are otherwise likely to be forgotten a real chance in life.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
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