EDITOR’S NOTE: The documentary “Battle for Brooklyn,” shortlisted for a possible Academy Award nomination, is being show Saturday and Sunday at 11 a.m. at the Laemmle Santa Monica 4-Plex and there will be a Q&A with filmmaker Michael Galinsky. No community activist should miss this to understand how rich and powerful forces can be beaten and neighborhoods saved. This article was written for Kickstarter.com where the producers will able to raise $25,000 in critical funding in 2009.
ago, after being rejected from countless grants, my partners and I went to Kickstarter to seek funds to continue our
multi-year documentary project, Battle for Brooklyn. We knew that our
film was important, but because it didn’t fit into the paradigms of what was
expected in a documentary, and didn’t hew to well-worn paths, we were able to
secure very little institutional support. However, in the space that
Kickstarter had opened up, we raised $25,000 and found a way to continue our
work. We eventually finished Battle for Brooklyn and launched it to
positive reviews and strong audience reaction.
has themes that resonate with those of OWS, and interest in it is rising
exponentially as people make the connection. The first time I went down to Zuccotti Park,
I was struck by the fact that it felt more like a creative space than a
political one. I found myself surrounded by people playing jazz, ragtime, and salsa
music. There were people making posters and people having heated discussions.
It seemed a lot less like a protest than a celebration of the creative spirit.
At the same time, the message
that I heard was very clear. People were fed up with the cozy relationship
between business and government. They felt shut out of the process, and they
felt their voices weren’t being heard.
Our film is
about a community that will be bulldozed if a developer gets control of their
homes and businesses. Throughout the movie we see those people with the
most at stake shut out of the process. With no PR or advertising budget they
had to compete against deep-pocketed developers and government officials to get
their message heard. Like the folks at OWS they used their creative spirit to
fight against those in power. However, it was a tough fight because the whole
media system was rigged against them.
shift in our collective consciousness isn’t as swift or direct as it was after
9/11, I believe it is equally as profound. In this new world, dissent has
value, and the idea of questioning authority doesn’t lead to instant
marginalization. We feel this perspective shift profoundly when showing Battle
for Brooklyn in the wake of OWS. While the film played well before
September, people respond more powerfully to it as each week passes. The recent
screenings have led to long discussions about the connection between our film
and OWS. Instead of a shock and awe kind of change I am seeing increasing
willingness to embrace and accept complexity.