The well-assembled documentary "Battle for Brooklyn" follows one man's tenacious and complicated fight to preserve his neighborhood from a questionable invoking of eminent domain.
The film was shot over the course of seven years, starting with the late-2003 announcement of Atlantic Yards, a mixed-use construction project featuring a basketball arena to house the New Jersey Nets. Married co-director-producers Suki Hawley and Michael Galinsky chiefly focus on area resident Daniel Goldstein, a graphic designer who stood to lose his Prospect Heights condo as part of private developer Forest City Ratner's plan to condemn several blocks in the way of Atlantic Yards' proposed footprint.
Instead of following his neighbors in selling out to Ratner, Goldstein co-founded, along with future wife Shabnam Merchant, Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, a volunteer coalition to defend against the controversial encroachment. What emerges is an involving David and Goliath tale in which Goldstein and his supporters face down corporate spin, grandstanding politicians and shifting local allegiances, while lawsuits and the decade's economic downturn force the massive project to stall, downsize and reconfigure (it has yet to open).
Although not exactly even-handed, the movie proves a deft look at a reluctant crusader and how financial sway and political override can so effectively trump the power of the average citizen.
"Battle for Brooklyn." No MPAA Rating. Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes. At Laemmle's Music Hall 3, Beverly Hills.