UConn alumnus comes home to screen his chess documentary
Published: Thursday, October 10, 2013
Updated: Thursday, October 10, 2013 00:10
Brian Schulz, a 1997 graduate of UConn, came to his home campus to screen a documentary film he worked closely on: “Brooklyn Castle.”
The film takes the stories of five young members of a chess team from a junior high school, Intermediate School 318, which has a population of students who live below the poverty line. The members of the chess team are compared to being as popular as the athletes at other junior high schools. Themes in the film include: urban education, tension between balanced budget, parental involvement and the value of extracurricular opportunities.
“Brooklyn Castle” brings to our attention how important the game of chess is to the group featured in the film. The audience pays attention to Justus and Rochelle who try to make history; Justus, the youngest African-American chess master, and Rochelle, who wishes to be the first African-American female chess master. Other characters include Alexis, a Latino boy, who wishes to excel in school in order to become a lawyer or doctor to help support his family. Pobo, an African-American boy, is the emotional support for his fellow chess members and hopes to become president of the United States. Lastly, there is Patrick, the boy who lives with ADHD and who wants to progress with his chess playing. These five children prove to us that we can step up and achieve our dreams.
The budget is the key part of the film that was brought up many times. With the government not doing well, the budget for the school was cut more and more each year, causing the children to fundraise their trips to Texas, Minnesota and Northern New York. We see how the issue weighs on the kids physically and mentally, making them believe they may not be able to achieve their goals or even attend the championships.
On the panel joining Schulz was Michele Femc-Bagwell, Ruth Lyons and Alex Fikiet. Femc-Bagwell is the director of CommPACT Schools and part of the Department of Educational Leadership Faculty. Lyons is the director of The Renzulli Academy in Hartford, CT. Fikiet is a member of the UConn Chess club and a fellow chess player supporting the film who played against the “Brooklyn Castle” stars in championships.
After the film, the panel took on questions that were generated by staff of NEAG, Alumni, and students. Schulz explained how the documentary was built in collaboration with the director of the film. He explained how he was exclusive only to sports but has made his way into a new area with his cinematography.
“Brooklyn Castle” was a successful film that puts viewers into the shoes of the chess players who made their way into our hearts with little laughs and endearing stories that viewers eventually feel connected to.
For more information about the film, visit www.brooklyncastle.com.