Saturday, March 02, 2013


In BROOKLYN CASTLE, presented by Rescued Media, the remarkable success of The Chess Club at Intermediate School 318 in Brooklyn, New York is explored.

The Chess Club was the brain-child of I.S. 318 Principal, Fortunato Rubino, who was, before his death in 2012, the chief administrator under which I.S. 318 students had won regional, state, and national chess titles for at least ten years. John Galvin, who is the Assistant Principal, and Elizabeth Vicaray, who is a gifted chess teacher, are also instrumental in leading their almost all male chess club , including one female member, to regional, state, and national championships.

This film is extremely timely because of the current budget crisis in New York City. Education in The New York City School District is especially vulnerable this year because the “cuts” are affecting after-school programs which do enhance the students’ academic progress during school hours. Similarly, The students and the teachers at I.S. 318 struggle to remain afloat by demonstrating the impact of being on a winning chess team, which is approached as an after-school program.

The children (young adults) such as Pobo, Alexis, Rochelle, Justis, Miles, and Nigel not only consistently win at Chess, but they open the doors to opportunity for themselves through winning Championship after Championship. Pobo, perhaps, and Rochelle are the best examples of this aspect of belonging to The Chess Club through their measured achievement in class and after school.

Rochelle, who wins The National Female Competition, recives a prestigious scholarship to the college of her choice, while Pobo runs for and wins his school election as President of the I.S. 318 student body. If you are a parent with children in an after-school program, or an employee in an after school program, or a person who votes for or against budget cuts, this film does offer some solutions to the budget crises as the cuts do affect after-school programs not only in New York but also throughout the United States.

On a scale of from one to ten I am giving Brooklyn Castle a rating of nine because although the documentary is quite thorough in discussing I.S. 318 the film does neglect to compare its program with other non-chess type after-school programs which were also in danger of being scrapped due to budget cuts.

About the Author: Cleo Brown is the movie reviewer for She lives in Manhattan and has a Master’s Degree in Contemporary African-American History from The University of California at Davis and has done work on a Ph.D. in education at The University of San Francisco.

She has published several poetry books and is featured in Who’s Who in Poetry. Learn more at

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