Some wins, some losses in 'Battle for Brooklyn'
A review of the documentary "Battle for Brooklyn," which chronicles one homeowner's fight against a Brooklyn developer.
Seattle Times movie critic
'Battle for Brooklyn,' a documentary by Suki Hawley and Michael Galinsky. 93 minutes. Not rated. Northwest Film Forum, through Thursday, with Galinsky and other guests present Friday. (Also at the Grand Cinema,
4:15 p.m. Sunday, with Galinsky present.)
Daniel Goldstein, it appears, never intended to be an activist; much less a symbol of the little man vs. the big corporation. He's a graphic designer who, a few years back, bought a Brooklyn condo with his fiancee, after a long search for just the right place. And then he learned that his newish, attractive building was slated to be demolished, to make way for a massive development project centered on an arena for the New Jersey Nets. Goldstein could have taken payouts from the developer and moved away — as all of his neighbors did — but, he thought, no, this is my home, and this is just wrong.
Suki Hawley and Michael Galinsky's "Battle for Brooklyn" documents what would become a seven-year fight for Goldstein, who quickly became the lone resident in his 32-unit building — we see his name as the only one on the lobby directory, and his lights shining at night from an otherwise dark edifice. We meet local politicians who opposed the project, and those who supported it, even as the details of the development began to change. (Frank Gehry was initially slated to be its architect; he eventually left the project before any building began.) And we watch as Goldstein's life slowly changes, both for worse (he and his fiancee split up, early on) and for better. He meets and falls in love with a fellow activist, and they marry and have a child. Late in the film, Goldstein holds his tiny daughter and explains that "None of us — none of us three — wants this to go on much longer"; he's fighting alone no more.
Hawley and Galinsky, a longtime wife-and-husband documentary team, bring real suspense to the story, culled from many hundreds of hours of footage. Both opposing sides talk about "the soul of Brooklyn"; what's also clear, from this movie, is a powerful sense of finding home.
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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