Wednesday, December 17, 2014

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NY1 Movie Review: "Battle For Brooklyn"

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The controversial Atlantic Yards project, which pitted city government and developers against residents and business owners, is the subject of the new documentary "Battle For Brooklyn." NY1's Neil Rosen filed the following report.

A new documentary looks at the six year fight between the residents of Prospect Heights and the developers who want to build a basketball arena there and it's called "Battle For Brooklyn."

Back in 2003 when the Atlantic Yards Project - the project the film is based on - was announced, it was a massive plan to build 16 skyscrapers and a new sports arena for the New Jersey Nets who would move to the famed borough.

The plan was for the government to seize 22 acres of Prospect Heights on behalf of the developer Bruce Ratner.

There were grand press conferences, with Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowtiz and Mayor Michael Bloomberg touting the project.

But all was not so rosy for some of the residents and business owners of Prospect Heights who were going to be displaced.

Filmmakers Michael Glainsky and Suki Hawely anchor their story around Daniel Goldstein, an activist who fights to the bitter end to save his Prospect Heights apartment and rally his community to stop the rule of eminent domain from destroying their neighborhood.

And they used seven years worth of archival footage to do it.

The directors of this documentary wear their heart on their sleeve and are clearly in the residents' camp, portraying the developers as robber barons and the small business owners as victims - so it's not exactly a balanced portrait.

Still, it's a fascinating story.

Money, especially in New York City, almost always wins out and the movie shows the passionate, if not often futile attempts of Goldstein to fight the wealthy and bureaucratic powers-that-be.

There is too much focus on Goldstein's personal life and the filmmakers decision to make him the central character doesn't always work.

More personal stories form other residents and business owners would have been nice.

But if you're a New Yorker, it's a mesmerizing story and for the most part Battle For Brooklyn, provides an engrossing history lesson on this controversial project.

Neil Rosen's Big Apple Rating: Three Apples ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP