Filmmaker Katie Dellamaggiore received much-deserved acclaim for her 2012 documentary Brooklyn Castle, which chronicles the triumphs and struggles of the chess team from Williamsburg’s I.S. 318. The film is a remarkable achievement, not least because it captures the difficulties inherent in this city’s public school system—particularly in terms of funding—without failing to celebrate all the things that Brooklynites have in their power to make our schools a success. Dellamaggiore is perfectly suited to make a Brooklyn-centered documentary because, as she tells us, “I was born and raised in Brooklyn, so I’ve lived here my whole life. I never thought I would stay in Brooklyn I think as a kid you always imagine living somewhere other than where you’re from. But now, as an adult, I’ve really fallen in love with Brooklyn in a different way than I knew it as a kid.” Part of the reason that Dellamaggiore loves being here now is because of the strength of Brooklyn’s film community and, she says, “even more specifically the documentary community.
There are just so many filmmakers living and working in Brooklyn from young people fresh out of college to film and industry veterans. It’s so easy to just grab a coffee with someone to discuss ideas and projects. It’s those personal interactions—when so much of what we do happens over email—that add to Brooklyn’s special kind of small-town vibe. My best kind of inspiration comes from meeting interesting people—no lack of those in Brooklyn—and hearing their unique stories. I can never predict where a good story will come from, so just having open ears and eyes on the subway, at the supermarket, walking the dog these are the everyday moments when great ideas sometimes reveal themselves.” Dellamaggiore lives here with her husband, Nelson, who edited Brooklyn Castle and their baby daughter—just born on January 26. She tells us, “I can imagine staying in Brooklyn to raise our daughter—maybe she’ll even attend I.S. 318, home to the Brooklyn Castle champion chess team! The only real challenge to living in Brooklyn is traffic and parking. If there was some way to ensure there would never be traffic and there would always be parking then Brooklyn would be a truly perfect place to live.”
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