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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Politics > Elections > Voting > Racism > Street Fight (2005)

Street Fight (2005)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C     Documentary: B+



One of the best looks at the political system in America and its more corrupt side is Marshall Curry’s Street Fight (2005), showing the 2002 campaign between the 32-year-old Yale graduate Cory Booker and the longtime four-term mayor Sharp James.  Both men are African American, though Booker has a white parent as well.  The camera follows Booker as he tries to sincerely reach out and make changes for the better.  However, he soon learns that the reason why change has been slow is because the fix is in.


James does not intend to let him even compete, pulls every dirty trick in the book and we soon discover (remarkably before Booker (or maybe the director) realizes it that James’ has a political machine that knows it can get away with almost anything and often does.  The closer election day gets, the worse it gets, including no strategy for responding to attacks about being an educated out-of-touch elite, that being part white made him “the other” and that he was a puppet of powered interest.  This includes amazingly blatant anti-Semitism and all kinds of plants, including James exploiting and using children.  Still, Booker amazingly does not realize it.


That this powerful 81 minutes did not cause a federal investigation is stunning as what we watch unfold redefines and ups the idea of “black on black” violence in unexpected ways.  Saddest of all is watching Booker left out there to twist in the wind with a staff of supporters who are too nice, clueless about the dirty tricks (let alone how to respond to them) and shows that institutionalized racism allows this to go unpunished in a way that should be a red alert to us all.  After all, if this goes unpunished and too few people have heard about this, what about all the stories that say silenced and are never recorded?


The 1.33 X 1 image was shot on low-def digital video during the 2002 campaign and shows its limits, but still looks very good and consistent for a shoot with detail issues.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo is not bad throughout considering this was all taped as it was happening, with added clips editing in (picture and sound) nicely.  The only extra is a short (about 12 minutes) but informative interview with Curry that literally answers many questions about his approach.  There was more room for extras and too bad there was not an extensive update, but the story of Street Fight is far from over and you should see this excellent documentary ASAP.  It is one of the best of the current cycle of political docs that is mandatory viewing in a sea of so many releases.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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