Thursday, June 6, 2013

Brooklyn Castle

[Rochelle Ballantyne.]

The documentary Brooklyn Castle (dir. Katie Dellamaggiore, 2012) tells the story of the chess team from Brooklyn’s Intermediate School 318, a team that has won more national chess championships than any other. We watched last night, having played and won with the Netflix Gambit (that is, having managed the queue so as to get the film the day after its release on DVD). The film reminded me of Mad Hot Ballroom : here too we get to see absolute dedication to an art, in a film that is funny, happy, poignant, and inspiring. May everyone at I. S. 318 go far.

The school’s chess teacher and coach Elizabeth Spiegel, speaking in the film:

“Learning chess and becoming good at chess and having to solve your own problems of how you teach yourself things is fantastic for kids. Maybe in this world in which more and more kids can only concentrate for ten minutes, in fact it’s exactly what we need.”
Rochelle Ballantyne, a 318 alum, is now headed for college and is likely to become the first African-American female chess master.

Here’s the film’s website.

[Brooklyn: represent!]

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