For her feature directorial debut, Katie Dellamaggiore has accomplished a great feat with Brooklyn Castle, an award-winning documentary about a junior high chess team that covers a lot of territory without feeling overloaded. It’s a multi-character competition doc crossed with an issue film, but it’s also neither of those things so much as it’s just a heartfelt, crowd-pleasing movie about young people with talent and personal goals and the school that wants to help them succeed if only they have the financial opportunity to do so.
I talked to Dellamaggiore this week about the film and how it came about and then evolved over time to be a work that transcends genre expectations, as well as her thoughts on the competition and issue elements of the doc, choosing characters, keeping up with them and staying out of their way while they display their skills on the chessboard. Read our conversation in full below, and see the film when it comes to your area.
DOC Channel Blog: I’m sure this is a question you’ve answered enough, but were you into chess before making the film?
Katie Dellamaggiore: The interest in making the film didn’t necessarily come from wanting to make a movie about chess. Or, at least that wasn’t what I was looking for. I’m not a chess player, so I wasn’t looking for a story about chess. I had read an article in the New York Times about this young chess player, who at the time was going on to the best high school chess team in the nation, which is Murrow High School in Brooklyn. And that was the neighborhood that I grew up in. Well, it turns out there was a book written about them called Kings of New York, which I bought and read and loved, and in that book is one chapter dedicated to I.S. 318, which is the school featured in my movie.
I called the author of the book and thought it might be a really great idea for a film. He spent a year with this high school chess team, and I thought we could take it one step further and make a film about them. He actually suggested I check out I.S. 318’s team, because they hadn’t been getting a lot of attention, and it’s a Title 1 school with 70% of the kids below the poverty line, and they’ve won more national championships than any other school in the country.
Also, it was in the neighborhood where I now live. It was really easy to just hop over there one day before work and see what was going on, and when I got there I felt right away there was something really special happening. I met Elizabeth Vicary, the chess teacher, and I found Galvin, the principal and coordinator, and they were both so passionate and dedicated. So, that was what got me interested, the unexpected story of this under-served school just kicking butt in chess and overall creating this culture of success with all these after school programs.
- 2minichinz likes this
- infoshortage reblogged this from documentarychannel and added:
- torigene likes this
- filmlook reblogged this from deadlinecom
- filmlook likes this
- meerzu likes this
- tk3scixx likes this
- deadlinecom reblogged this from documentarychannel
- kyokapockyjigglypuff likes this
- documentarychannel posted this