In 2002, a young African American city councilman in Newark, New Jersey decided to run for mayor. Cory Booker was a former All-American football player at Stanford, a Rhodes Scholar and a graduate of Yale Law School who moved into the projects so he could live under the same conditions as those he represents. He garnered national attention as a bright, idealistic new face in the Democratic Party, trying to improve living conditions and education in his adopted city. Too bad he had the apparent temerity to challenge 16-year incumbent Sharpe James for his job. James, a Newark native and also an African American Democrat, had never lost an election in his hometown, and wasn't about to hand his post over to some young upstart without a struggle. Marshall Curry's fascinating documentary portrays James as an old-fashioned political boss and Booker as David trying to slay Goliath. James had the backing of the national party and control of all city organizations, including the police, who conveniently stopped Booker from campaigning door to door and sometimes removed his campaign signs. While Booker would attempt to talk issues, James would accuse him of actually being a white man secretly backed by right-wing Republicans. Because Booker gave Curry almost unlimited access, the director was repeatedly shunned, and even attacked, whenever he tried to approach and cover the James camp. Curry's film is a jaw-dropping example of rough and tumble politics that places the audience at the center of this dramatic fight-brutally violent yet neither bloody nor even physical.
Marshall Curry worked for a number of years as a senior producer at Icon Nicholson, a New York multimedia design firm, where he produced and directed interactive documentaries and websites for the Mashantucket Pequot Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and others. He has shot, edited, and directed a number of short films, including The Day the Indians Won (for the Rainforest Foundation), which tells the story of the Panara Indians in Brazil, who successfully won back their land, and Negril Elementary, (for the Rockhouse Foundation), which chronicles an education project in Jamaica. Curry is a graduate of Swarthmore College, where he studied comparative religion and was a Eugene Lang Scholar. He was also a Jane Addams Fellow at Indiana University's Center on Philanthropy, where he wrote about the history, philosophy, and economics of non-profits. Street Fight is Curry's first feature film.