Each time I'm feeling cynical about our country's future, along comes a documentary like Brooklyn Castle.

The kids from Brooklyn's IS 318 are mostly poor, and their school's budget is being cut by hundreds of thousands of dollars.

For the chess team and its star players, that could mean devastating reductions in the number of tournaments they get to attend. Luckily, these kids are smart, talented and hugely ambitious, and they have parents and faculty who want them to succeed in school, chess and life.

Don't follow chess? Doesn't matter. This is a human story, and the kids will capture your attention and hold it through each tournament, tutor session, school election, budget meeting, exam and tear-filled hugathon after particularly devastating losses.

All the kids have fascinating stories, but Pobo, Rochelle, James, Alexis and Justus get the most screen time, and it's easy to see why. Pobo is the leader, Rochelle the master, Alexis the quiet one, and James and Justus are prodigies.

Hopefully the makers of Brooklyn Castle will film these kids every seven years like Michael Apted did with the Up series.
CCA Cinematheque, PG, 102 min.