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June 5, 2011

News and Reviews of "Battle for Brooklyn" Continue

The Brooklyn Rail, Brooklyn's Ongoing Battle
By Williams Cole

This is an interview with Suki Hawley and Michael Galinsky on the release of their documentary "Battle For Brooklyn."

Rail: So how is the Atlantic Yards Project pivotal—realistically and symbolically—to the changes in Brooklyn over the last decade or so?

Galinsky: Incredibly pivotal. As George Will points out in the movie, all the city officials were saying this area is blighted and we have to redevelop it. But, really, they wanted the land because it wasn’t blighted. It was probably the most valuable piece of property in Brooklyn! And yet they’re getting to lease it for a dollar for one hundred years. A dollar for one hundred years! I mean, it’s absurd, and then they’re not paying any taxes.

Countdown to Main Street, Main Street Fete

Friday night. Main Street, Brooklyn. DUMBO seems too cool to have a Main Street, but there it is. I'm going to 37, Powerhouse Arena, a bookstore/event space, for a party celebrating the New York premier of "Battle for Brooklyn," at the Brooklyn Film Festival. I had seen cuts of the film, but the final version, with diagrams and music and storyline, starts off very hard and never lets up. It tells the story of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn and its 7 year fight to stop Bruce Ratner's ill-conceived Atlantic yards project. "It's like David and Goliath," says attorney Norman Siegel, "but you know, sometimes David wins." At the end of the film, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is chortling, "No one will remember how long it took." But we are watching the film, and we remember. I finger the leaflet in my pocket inviting me to a meeting June 15th to see the Unity Plan for the area. I plan to go. I want to see what Marshall Brown, Ron Shiffman and the other collaborating urban planners are proposing. The film's wonderful hero, Dan Goldstein, and brilliant heroine, Shabnam Merchant, are tenacious, ethical and beautiful. I learned a lot and look forward to seeing it over and over. In the meantime, at 37 Main Street, the activists and the film crowd rub shoulders in one of the moments of festivity in which we catch our breath and refuel for the next round in the fight.

inversecondemnation.com, Movie Review: Battle For Brooklyn

There have been other films about eminent domain. For a fictional comedic take on the subject you can't do better than Australia's The Castle, which tells the story of a Melbourne family's challenge to a Kelo-like taking of their home. Welcome to Asbury Park is a documentary about New Jersey property owners resisting the taking of their homes. It also looks like the Kelo story will be coming to the small screen in a Little Pink House movie.

But until Battle For Brooklyn, there's never been an attempt to chronicle the massive scope of an eminent domain story -- the film takes place over seven years, itself an accomplishment -- and with such intimacy. For although the film is framed by the opposition to the Atlantic Yards project, its heart is a character study of Daniel Goldstein, the property owner who became the opposition leader, and who by the film's end remains the sole "holdout" among his 130 neighbors.

And that's where Battle For Brooklyn excels. It allows us to witness Mr. Goldstein's evolution from a bewildered property owner to sophisticated spokesman and property rights activist. In the era of reality television we have become accustomed to often-too-revealing and all-too-polished looks into the personal lives of others. Yet, Battle For Brooklyn feels different.

Posted by steve at June 5, 2011 10:47 PM