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Street Fight: A Film By Marshall Curry
Street Fight A Film By Marshall Curry
Directors: Marshall Curry, Laura Paglin, Gabriel Cheifetz
Ironweed Film Club. Street Fight A film by Marshall Curry * 2005 * 82 minutes. — Also Included: No Umbrella: Election Day in the City by Laura Paglin * 2006 * 26 minutes. — From Media That Matters Film Festival: BattleGround...  more »


Movie Details

Directors: Marshall Curry, Laura Paglin, Gabriel Cheifetz
Format: DVD
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 3

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Movie Reviews

A Pseudo-Microcosmic Political Race That Everyone Should Be
B. Merritt | WWW.FILMREVIEWSTEW.COM, Pacific Grove, California | 10/29/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Most politically charged films focus on corruption at the higher levels of state, but STREET FIGHT gives us a curb-side view of something much smaller ...and much more important.

The 2002 Newark, New Jersey Mayoral race is something most voters in the U.S. could care less about. Why should someone in, say, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania pay attention to Newark's voting issues? Or someone in Fort Worth, Texas? Or San Francisco, California? Realistically, none of them would. But Newark is New Jersey's most populated city, and those in San Francisco and beyond might want to take a peak at what's happening to our democracy on a pseudo-microcosmic level.

The film's primary focus is on Cory Booker, a Newark city councilman with his eye on the mayor's office. He's a Stanford and Yale graduate who lives in a slum within Newark. He's an idealist who's grown tired of his city's poor schools, poorer neighborhoods, and rising jobless rate. To get into the mayor's office, though, he'll have to unseat four-time incumbent Sharpe James, a man who's firmly entrenched within Newark's politics.

We watch as writer/director/photographer Marshall Curry seeks to interview both sides of the race, first by checking in on Cory Booker's campaign, then by trying (in vain) to meet up with Sharpe James and his people. But once James' campaign personnel learn that Curry interviewed Booker already, he is immediately shunned and pushed aside (often in a very rough manner). Curry's camera is pushed around time and again, his microphone broken, and he's denied access to Sharpe James entirely. Even when Curry catches up with James at a public event, he's manhandled by Sharpe James' `brute squad.' Most will find this very unsettling, as this is a publicly elected figure in a public place who is, in essence, acting like a thug.

That we never touch on the political issues surrounding the campaign is interesting and absurd. These are both positive aspects of the film. It shows us how little our democracy means in many instances; it isn't the poor schools/neighborhoods/jobs that dominate voters' discussions, but who's "more republican" or "more black" (both candidates are black) or "campaign has more money" or "has visited a strip joint".

In the end, we watch Sharpe James use every slimy tactic at his disposal in order to win votes (including bringing in paid James' supporters from out-of-state to help bolster support on election day). Booker doesn't win the election, thus giving the viewer a very negative view of New Jersey politics. But all is not gloom and doom.

In 2006, Cory Booker returned to the mayoral race and took Newark by storm. Sharpe James uncharacteristically dropped from the race for unknown reasons while a new runner took up position against Booker, only to be squashed in the largest landslide win of any mayoral race in New Jersey history.

But the bitter taste of the 2002 race still lingers in audiences minds after watching Street Fight. It's a tough film to watch, because we all want to believe that our democracy is flawless when, in fact, it has so many problems and shady dealings as to make one ill at the prospect."
The Candidate Returns
Liam Wilshire | Portland, OR | 10/26/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Q: Why should anyone west of the Delaware River care about the Newark, NJ mayoral race of 2002? A: For me, this was an edge-of-the-seat suspenser that wouldn't let go long enough to let me take a phone call. If you don't know how it ends, see it for the cliffhanging story it tells. For anyone else, this compact little documentary should be seen for its relentless journalistic energy. As American politics becomes more and more dominated by fear tactics, the corporate-owned news organizations have abdicated their duties as the Fourth Estate of our republic, leaving independents like Marshall Curry to take up the mantle. STREET FIGHT compares favorably with the classic MEDIUM COOL, and entertains like a latter-day version of THE CANDIDATE.

We see Sharpe James, a six-term incumbent, try every dirty trick in the book to hold on to his office: he threatens business closures for those who put rival Cory Booker's sign in their windows; he smears the Booker campaign with bogus sex scandals; he even uses the fact that out of the two African American candidates, Booker is less "real" for having lighter skin than his. Both sides wrangle for endorsements, meet with community groups, and chase every dollar not nailed down. The kind of back room manipulations used by James would seem highly improbable in a fictional film. Although it may take place in a different city, this documentary is the perfect companion piece to Season Three of THE WIRE. The similarities between the two political environments is uncanny.

Booker himself, 32 years old at the time of the race, is all forward momentum. Barak Obama is clearly not the only young politician who threatens to breathe some life into our dying democracy. On the eve of the election, a child who has just touched Booker tells Curry, off camera, to smell her hands. "Why, does he have a smell?" "Yes," says the girl. "He smells like the future.""
Riveting! - The "real deal" on politics in a major urban cit
Steven I. Ramm | Phila, PA USA | 02/04/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This film had me glued to my TV set for it's full 90 minutes. Though I don't live that far from New Jersey, I was unaware of the political campaigns for the position of Mayor in Newark, NJ. At first I noted that this was about a campaign four years ago and thought it was an old film. But it's not. It goes right up through 2006.

One of the marks of a great documentary film is that you feel you are really there. This was shot on video and makes it even more realistic (well, it IS real). I find it hard to believe that this Director Marshall Curry's first full-length feature. It's that gripping. And the lead "characters" of Cory Booker and Mayor Sharpe have such distinct personalities that, as the film progresses, you can't help but take sides.

The film was shown on PBS's show P.O.V. but that is usually aired at very oddball, times - and rarely repeated. And the 20-minute interview with Director Curry helps flesh out some of the details and explains why he became the film's narrator.

The best way to watch this film is to know as little as possible about the story before watching it. Let it reveal itself. Then watch the Curry interview.

This is one of the best documentary films I've seen in at least the last six months (and I'm a documentary "addict"). No wonder it was nominated for a 2006 Academy Award!

Steve Ramm "Anything Phonographic"
An Absolute Must See!
The Inveterate Reader | New York, NY | 05/07/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This documentary shows the nity gritty reality of local politics in America. Director Marshall Curry follows the battle between Cory Booker and incumbent Sharp James as they fight for the city of Newark, NJ. For those, like myself, who find themselves losing hope in our nations political leaders, Cory Booker is a true oasis in the desert. This film is one of the best and most meaningful documentaries I have ever seen."