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Street Fight

Street Fight

Director:Marshall Curry
Genre:Documentary, Political

By Erin Sullivan | Posted 10/25/2006

It's a pretty predictable political story: Young, fresh-faced upstart challenges seasoned machine politician and loses. But the thing that makes this 2005 documentary worth a watch is the shockingly blatant black-on-black racism that marks this particular race. Cory Booker, a suburban-born 32-year-old African-American Yale grad, challenges Newark, N.J., Mayor Sharpe James, a gritty, sixtysomething four-term incumbent born and raised in the city's poorest neighborhoods. When James accuses the light-skinned Booker of being a white Jew pretending to be black (at one point, a Sharpe supporter screams at Booker from a truck, "You're suspect, boy, you ain't black!"), things get ugly, mob mentality takes over, and big guns Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and Cornel West are called in to stump for the candidates. Director Marshall Curry seems to have fallen a bit in love with his subject, which is where many political-drama docs go south, but he keeps it moving with revealing snippets showing the frenzy that drives each of the candidates' campaigns, the matter-of-fact wrangling of political handlers, and the smug righteousness of machine politics.

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