Did you know a Brooklyn public middle school is home to the country's championship chess team? IS 318, a large 6-8 school in Williamsburg, boasts so many chess wins that the school's chess coach lost count. In April, it became the first middle school to win the National Chess Federation's high school championship.
Now the award-winning chess team is the subject of an award-winning movie, too.
Documentary filmmaker Katie Dellamaggiore's new film about the school, Brooklyn Castle, follows five charismatic members of the IS 318 chess team as they tackle chess tournaments, navigate personal struggles (including choosing a high school) and deal with budget cuts to their after-school program. The documentary premeired at South By Southwest in March to rave reviews, winning the 2012 SXSW Audience Award.
While Brooklyn Castle toured the festival circuit, the filmmakers did double-duty as activists promoting afterschool programs. (Check out their Vimeo channel for a behind-the-scenes video of their outreach, including a Marty Markowitz cameo and a speech from one of the very articulate and talented chess champs featured in the film.)
This week, New Yorkers finally have the chance to see the film. Lincoln Center has a sneak preview on Thursday night before it's officially released Friday, Oct. 19. Pick up tickets for the sneak preview here. Or, on Sunday, GothamSchools is hosting a special matinee screening with discounted tickets for teachers followed by a Q & A with IS 318's charismatic chess coaches.
If you go, we suggest you bring tissues. It looks like a tear-jerker, especially since the school's beloved principal Eric Rubino passed away soon after the film opened at Sundance.
UPDATE: Public school teachers with a valid teacher ID or union card can see the move for free between Friday, Oct. 26th and Thursday, Nov. 1. Details here.