Short doc ‘The Answer,’ which will be shown at NJ Film Festival, revisits Trump Plaza demolition


Trump Plaza is shown being demolished in the short documentary, “The Answer.”

A newswoman heard at the start of “The Answer,” a short film about the 2021 implosion of the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, proclaims it the “end of an era.” Though no longer owned by Donald Trump at the time of its implosion — which took place a few weeks after he ended his term as our 45th President — Trump Plaza was the first casino he built in Atlantic City, and had been the largest in town back when it opened, in 1984. But it had closed in 2014, putting more than 1,000 people out of work.

“This, to me, feels like a complete rebirth of Atlantic City — and it’s about time,” says a local businesswoman interviewed for “The Answer,” a short documentary about the building’s demolition that was directed by Matt Kliegman and will be shown at 5 p.m. June 3 at the New Jersey International Film Festival at Rutgers University in New Brunswick (and can be viewed online all day on June 3, as well; visit

Kliegman makes the point that implosions aren’t exactly a new phenomenon in Atlantic City. He includes footage of many city properties being razed, starting in 1972, to clear the way for the Shore resort city’s transformation into a gambling mecca in 1978. According to a news report that Kliegman includes, there were 330 suspicious building fires in the city in 1981, and 400 buildings were demolished, as many developers wanted to build there, and lots were often worth more with no buildings on them. The towering, glittering Trump Plaza, when it opened in ’84, was a perfect symbol of the Atlantic City building boom.

By 2014, though, the Trump Entertainment Resorts company — founded by Trump but controlled, by that time, by Carl Icahn — was hundreds of millions of dollars in debt, and shuttering the low-performing and now-outdated Trump Plaza seemed like the only option. And with the building deteriorating further in subsequent years, implosion became inevitable.

“There were a lot of people that gave their heart and soul to that place, and are sad to see it go,” laments a former Trump Plaza doorman.

Kliegman includes footage of the implosion itself, and other things surrounding it: The last-minute check to make sure there were no homeless people in the area, who could be hurt; Atlantic City mayor Marty Small and others looking on and cheering. “Today is truly a great day here in the city of Atlantic City,” Small says, in a press conference.

“I got Trump dust all over me,” says a reporter, calling into a local radio station.

Was the implosion “The Answer”? Kliegman doesn’t say, explicitly. But he does end the documentary by noting that the lot remains empty.

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