'Brooklyn Castle' Stars I.S. 318 Chess Team

The new documentary follows five young chess stars as they overcome personal hurdles.

Students at I.S. 318 are the stars of a new feature-film documentary called “Brooklyn Castle,” which follows five members of the school’s nationally ranked chess team, according to ABC.

The school, located on the border of Bed-Stuy and south Williamsburg, is a typical inner-city story where almost 70 percent of students fall below the poverty line. The chess team, though, has won more championships than any other school in the nation.

"There's been a lot of bad press about teachers and about public schools, and we think this film really shows what the promise of public education is," John Galvin, Assistant Principal, told ABC.

The film follows the lives of students Justus, Alexis, Rochelle, Pobo and Patrick as they each overcome unique hurdles – Alexis comes from immigrant parents, and Patrick battles ADHD, for instance.

"If you work hard and you do what you're supposed to do and believe in what you can accomplish then you can achieve it," Rochelle Ballantyne, one of the players featured in the film told the channel.

Elizabeth Spiegal, their chess teacher, told ABC that they were the first middle school in history to win the high school nationals, and that her team has trounced the best private schools in the country.

"This movie shows that an extracurricular program like chess is not an extracurricular at all – that this is the reason kids are showing up for school. This is the reason they love school," Katie Dellamaggiore, director of the film, told ABC.


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