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Street Fight

STREET FIGHT chronicles the bare-knuckles race for Mayor of Newark, NJ between Cory Booker, a 32-year old Rhodes Scholar/Yale Law School grad, and Sharpe James, the four-term incumbent and undisputed champion of New Jersey politics.

Fought in Newark's neighborhoods and housing projects, the battle pits Booker against an old-style political machine that uses any means necessary to crush its opponents: city workers who do not support the mayor are demoted; 'disloyal' businesses are targeted by code enforcement; a campaigner is detained and accused of terrorism; and disks of voter data are burglarized in the night.

Even the filmmaker is dragged into the slugfest, and by election day, the climate becomes so heated that the Federal government is forced to send in observers to watch for cheating and violence.

The battle sheds light on important American questions about democracy, power and -- in a surprising twist -- race. Both Booker and James are African-American Democrats, but when the mayor accuses the Ivy League educated Booker of not being 'really black' it forces voters to examine how we define race in this country. 'We tell our children to get educated,' one Newarker says, 'and when they do, we call them white. What kind of a message does that send?'

STREET FIGHT tells a gripping story of the underbelly of democracy where elections are not about spin-doctors, media consultants, or photo ops. In Newark, we discover, elections are won and lost in the streets.

'It's a hard fast film that needs airing now... Street Fight is briskly edited, imaginatively scored by James Baxter and vastly entertaining... Even if you know the outcome, Street Fight will keep you on the edge of your seat.' Variety

'Engrossing...Pulls no punches.' The New York Times

'Extraordinary...Marshall Curry...has hit the documentary jackpot.' David Denby, The New Yorker

'Unpretentious and absorbing...Street Fight has enough cultural crosscurrents to fill out a novel.' Michael Atkinson, Village Voice

'***1/2... a telling behind-the-scenes chronicle... Highly recommended.' Video Librarian's Best Documentaries of the Year List

'Highly Recommended. Curry constructs a portrait of a unique and complicated political landscape in a way that conveys both the importance and the intensity of political engagement... expertly conveys the stakes at hand... [Street Fight] crystallizes how such tactics cripple the discourse needed to address issues that affect too many African American communities, such as poverty and corruption... although Curry presents many things that are wrong with the corrupt leadership in Newark, he never loses focus of the hope that many of its residents have for their community... This riveting film would be appropriate in any library collection. Street Fight offers dramatic tension that parallels even the best feature films about political intrigue, and as such would make a great addition to public libraries and curriculum-based collections alike. It would provide an engaging centerpiece for discussions concerning race issues, politics, and community development.' Meghann Matwichuk, Morris Library, University of Delaware for Educational Media Reviews Online

'Riveting drama.' Curry is one of '25 New Faces of Independent Film, 2005' Filmmaker Magazine

'Curry's film is genuinely smart and rousing.' New York Newsday

'Marshall Curry's Street Fight packs a wallop...riveting...' Indiewire

'This is a fascinating story... A wonderful documentary.' Tavis Smiley Show, PBS

'You won't wanna' miss Street Fight' ABC News: The Note

'A riveting expose!' Time Out

'Street Fight, which took the [Hot Docs] festival's prize for Best International Documentary, avoids dryness entirely... It was the most riveting film I saw in the entire festival, in and out of competition.' FIPRESCI (International Federation of Film Critics)

'Street Fight is a real life Spike Lee movie (that would be the best work of Spike's career...) A more complex version of Rocky... It is the rare documentary that commands-- not demands-- that you take action.' David Poland's The Hot Button

'Riveting documentary, in which an idealistic reformer comes to grips with machine politics and dirty tricks.' The New York Daily News

'It was exceptional.' Crooks and Liars

'Perhaps the most significant Tribeca Film Festival award is that given by the audience. And so it is time to pay attention to Street Fight... [Curry] couldn't have dreamed up a more compelling subject.' The New York Sun

'An incredible film by Marshall Curry... entertaining.' Bloomberg News

'Engrossing nonfiction -- a grimly funny account of bloody-knuckled democracy... the political version of a slasher picture.' The Star Ledger

'A compelling David versus Goliath story... Street Fight is this year's political thriller.' Center Stage with Mark Gordon, KXLU

'Street Fight is a must see documentary for anyone with even a passing interest in American politics... It's fascinating to see the drama unfold.' The Portland Mercury

'The film is a lesson in street-level politics that can not be learned in civics class.' Tribeca Trib

'Street Fight is a riveting account of the most brutal of contact sports: politics...First-time documentarian Marshall Curry emerges from the fray with a film that raises vital questions about the health of our democracy.' Museum of TV and Radio, NYC

A critics pick: (**** 4 stars) 'Prepare to get seriously pissed off... [a] sharp, infuriating documentary.' Toronto Eye

A 'fascinating, disturbing documentary... a ballot-box bloodbath.' San Antonio Current

'Few documentary films achieve epic climaxes worthy of a Shakespearean drama, but Street Fight does.' SilverDocs Film Festival

'Curry's film is a jaw-dropping example of rough and tumble politics that places the audience at the center of this dramatic fight.' Tribeca Film Festival

'A truly exceptional piece of filmmaking...a tight and coherent narrative that has universal appeal...One could argue that Curry stumbled into a gold mine when he ventured from his Brooklyn home to Newark, but not anyone could have taken such a complicated and colorful campaign and produced something thus focused and, dare I say, sharp.' Politics NJ

A 'tough look at issues of race, class and corruption.' Vancouver Straight

'Winner of the [Toronto Hot Docs Festival] Best International Documentary prize, Marshall Curry's film is both a fight story worthy of a UFC match and a penetrating examination of racism, bossism and privilege in American municipal politics' Dose

[Street Fight is a] 'terrific fly-on-the-wall documentary' Toronto Metro

'Eye-opening...This film demonstrates chillingly how down-and-dirty politics happen at the local level as well as nationally.' The Martha's Vineyard Times

'...very insightful.' Word Magazine

**** (4 stars) 'Absolutely vital viewing...A scary look at how race and class divisions are perhaps most venomous when they afflict the same race and class...[It's] not too much to call Street Fight a microcosm of a crippling national disease.' Film Freak Central

'Go see this film...This is powerful stuff.' Blog T.O.

'Hats off to Marshall Curry for making this courageous film... Street Fight is a film every American and every Black American needs to see.' Diversity in Business

'A fascinating documentary.' Cincinatti Enquirer

'In a sea of small print and button pushing, it's refreshing to see another straightforward and honest look at the underbelly of American politics. It's this directness that keeps Marshall Curry's Street Fight interesting and exciting from start to finish, giving viewers a front row seat of an underdog's campaign against a seemingly fixed system...Firmly Recommended.'


Main credits

Curry, Marshall (film producer)
Curry, Marshall (film director)
Curry, Marshall (screenwriter)

Other credits

Photographer, Marshall Curry; editor, Marshall Curry; original music, James Baxter.

Docuseek2 subjects

Distributor subjects

African-American Studies
American Democracy
American Studies
Citizenship and Civics
Political Science
Race and Racism
Social Psychology
Urban Studies


race for mayor, Newark, New Jersey, Cory Booker, Rhodes Scholar, Sharpe James,New Jersey politics, neighborhoods, housing projects, political machine, codes enforcement, voter data, federal observers, African-Americans, democrats, race; "Street Fight"; Bullfrog Films

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