The numbers at Intermediate School 318 in Brooklyn aren’t good: More than 60 percent of students come from homes below the poverty line, and the state education budget is getting cut year after year after year. The only thing that seems to buoy the school is its chess program: Yes, inner-city middle school students have not only taken to chess; they’ve excelled, winning more than 25 national championships. If Friday Night Lights were about chess, I.S. 318 would be its star. Set against a backdrop of declining public resources, Brooklyn Castle introduces us to a collection of smart, talented and personable students who use chess to expand their horizons, make friends and make their way. The underlying current is familiar: Our public-school system needs immediate reform, or programs like this—so unique and so impactful—will go away for good.
Director: Katie Dellamaggiore