With the Barclays Center set to open on 2 days later on September 28th, Filmwax's screening of BATTLE FOR BROOKLYN is all the more poignant. The Filmwax series, BROOKLYN RECONSTRUCTED, continues with its 4th screening of this very important documentary.
Each film in the series deals with the themes of gentrification & development in Brooklyn. Within those themes is a conversation about race & class in a city undergoing a startling transformation.
Documentary, 93 min, 2011
Special Guests: Michael Galinsky and Suki Hawley, David Beilinson, Daniel Goldstein, others
BATTLE FOR BROOKLYN is an intimate look at the very public and passionate fight waged by residents and business owners of Brooklyn’s historic Prospect Heights neighborhood facing condemnation of their property to make way for the polarizing Atlantic Yards project, a massive plan to build 16 skyscrapers and a basketball arena for the New Jersey Nets. The film focuses on graphic designer Daniel Goldstein whose apartment sits at what would be center court of the new arena. A reluctant activist, Daniel is dragged into the fight because he can’t accept that the government should use the power of Eminent Domain to take his new apartment and hand it off to a private developer, Forest City Ratner. The effort to stop the project pits him and his neighbors against Ratner and an entourage of lawyers and public relations emissaries, the government, as well as other residents who want the construction jobs, the basketball team, and the additional housing that the project might produce.
"In the movies, when David fights Goliath, we generally know who’s going to win. In real life, of course, it tends to be the other way around, as the compact and fascinating documentary 'Battle for Brooklyn' demonstrates. Compressing a seven-year civic struggle over a massive redevelopment project in the center of Brooklyn, N.Y. into 93 minutes, Michael Galinsky and Suki Hawley’s film spins a compelling tale about the value of individual and collective resistance, even as it makes clear where power in our society really resides. Along the way, ‘Battle for Brooklyn’ tells the story of a love affair and a new family, and reminds us that even billionaires are not omnipotent." — Andrew O’Hehir, Salon
"…Battle for Brooklyn is at its best showing how Atlantic Yards used the pretense of democracy to enrich the powerful, but how it also energized actual citizens to fight the good fight…" — Chris Smith, New York Magazine
"Shot matter of factly but possessing all the drama of a Hollywood drama, co-directors Michael Galinsky and Suki Hawley begin with the 2003 announcement by the city and developer Bruce Ratner to build a stadium complex in Prospect Heights as a home for the relocated New Jersey Nets. Ratner buys out businesses in the surrounding blocks. Those who don’t take the cash are forced out using Eminent Domain law. But the money doesn’t entice Daniel Goldstein, who’d just bought his apartment on Pacific Street and slowly found himself, to his surprise, becoming an accidental activist. Goldstein becomes a thorn in Ratner’s side, the lone holdout amongst three buildings in what came to be known as ‘the footprint’ of the Atlantic Yards project. Goldstein emerges in the movie as a man who suddenly finds what he was meant to be, going from graphic designer to full-time community voice. He loses a fiancé, then later meets his future wife. He speaks up for the people, despite being painfully shy. It all ends in a gray victory, the kind New York is filled with. But ‘Battle for Brooklyn’ – a film about a project that is presently moving forward – is another kind of victory, one all New Yorkers can associate with, one about fighting back and standing your ground." — Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News
"Michael Galinsky and Suki Hawley, who co-directed this incisive documentary, have a thing for cranks, die-hards and malcontents. (Their previous movies include Horns and Halos, which charted the wobbly final days of failed Dubya biographer James Hatfield.) So the filmmakers emphasize Daniel Goldstein, a graphic designer who adamantly refused to sell his condo to Forest City Ratner…The critics won the backing not only of working class-identified local actors Steve Buscemi, Rosie Perez and John Turturro, but also of conservative columnist George F. Will. Aside from hip-hop mogul Jay Z and wife Beyonce, the developer-government bloc didn’t attract much celebrity support. But then, it didn’t need it. The money men could always buy friendly voices, even funding a local "astroturf" group to promote the project. The Empire State’s eminent domain laws are unusually loose, but most of the rest of this story is pertinent far beyond New York. Change a few names and add the next credit bubble, and a Brooklyn-style Battle could be headed to a neighborhood near you." — Mark Jenkins, NPR
"In some ways 'Battle For Brooklyn' resembles Frank Capra’s ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ but even more so his ‘Mr. Smith Goes To Washington’ in its look at a relentless couple who fearlessly keeps fighting City Hall and its powerful allies at the expense of a social life and time to breathe, as the couple awakens a community and galvanizes a fight against a corporate and government structure that puts political roadblocks and legal linguistic contrivances in front of the resident taxpayers at every turn." — Omar Moore, The Popcorn Reel
"The movie proves a deft look at a reluctant crusader and how financial sway and political override can so effectively trump the power of the average citizen."— Gary Goldstein, The Los Angeles Times