Marshall Curry‘s Oscar-nominated documentary short “A Night at the Garden” started with a casual dinner conversation with a friend, who happened to be writing a screenplay set in 1939. “He said, ‘Did you know that there was a rally in Madison Square Garden where 20,000 Americans gathered to celebrate Nazism?'” Curry recalls. Incredulous, he went home and did some research to find out whether or not his pal was mistaken. “Sure enough, he was actually right.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Curry above.
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As Curry delved deeper, he discovered various short clips of the event, some of which had been previously featured in historical documentaries. He hired a researcher to find more footage, and decided to piece it together into a seven-minute film.
“When I first considered the project, I thought that I might do something a little more traditional,” he says, “where I would interview historians and get some background on what exactly it was.” But then he thought, “What would it be like if we just dropped the audience into this thing, with no explanation? What would that feel like? The more I started playing with it, the more I realized there was a real power to the immersive, cinematic experience of having this thing unfolding” without added context.
Curry was previously nominated for Best Documentary Feature for “If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front” (2011) and “Street Fight” (2005), the latter of which chronicled Cory Booker‘s 2002 mayoral campaign in Newark, New Jersey. Since then he has stayed in touch with the senator, who recently announced his candidacy for president in 2020.
“Over the years I’ve actually filmed him with the idea that I might track … the arc of his political career,” Curry reveals, “and so I actually filmed some of the lead-up to the kick-off of his presidential campaign.” In fact, “I was there in his bedroom at six o’clock in the morning the day that he announced and hit ‘send’ on Twitter to announce that he was going to run.” So perhaps another Oscar-nominated documentary is in the offing.
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