PhillyCAM brings back visual time capsule of the city

Jazzyfatnastees is featured in 'Philadelphia Stories' Season 2, Episode 4.
Provided

Philadelphia is a city full of stories and every one is as unique as the person that lives it.

Two decades ago, a program highlighting certain tales of the city titled ‘Philadelphia Stories,’ aired on WYBE TV 35 for eight seasons from 2001 to 2011. Each program was described as an official telling of Philly’s rich cultural fabric and imagined futures through the eyes of independent filmmakers and community storytellers. Over the ten years it was on air, viewers were able to get a sneak peek into lives of others through the lens of the city we all call home. 

Pictured are Director Sam Zolten and Frank “Squirrel” Williams in ‘Philadelphia Stories’ Season 2, Episode 2.Provided

As the release states, it shined a spotlight especially on the local filmmakers, while featuring all genres of filmmaking. At its core, the program gave some first-time filmmakers a launchpad and contributed to making Philadelphia a viable place for media artists to call home. Now, those programs are being celebrated once again starting this month, and Philadelphians can relive those stories. 

PhillyCAM – the community media center that trains Philadelphians in media production and airs original content on Philadelphia’s public access television and WPPM 106.5 FM – will present ‘Philadelphia Stories RETROSPECTIVE: A 20th Anniversary Look Back’ as a visual time capsule starting on Oct. 28. These programs are being re-broadcasted to shine a spotlight on the city and its evolution over the past 20 years. 

The programs will be shown over a five month period.

“The works featured in ‘Philadelphia Stories’ continue to resonate, some even feel like they could have been made today,” said Gretjen Clausing, Executive Director of PhillyCAM in a statement. “Over the next five months, we want to introduce new audiences to this work and engage people in conversations about the topics and issues these films raise.”

Summer of the Serpent featured in ‘Philadelphia Stories’ Season 1, Episode 14.Richard Beenen

‘Philadelphia Stories’ producer/curator Hébert Peck also has his own thoughts on the resurgence of the project while reflecting on what the showcased series was created for from the start: “’Philadelphia Stories’ represents a library of important works one can go to learn and calculate your next step whether you’re interested in environmental/climate issues, human rights issues, social justice. And then there were many pieces that just talked about love … the entire human experience.”

With support from the Independence Public Media Foundation, this project can be viewed every Thursday at 8:30 p.m. from Oct. 28, 2021 to March 31, 2022. PhillyCAM will air a ‘Philadelphia Stories’ episode on those Thursdays through Xfinity channels 66/966HD/967, Verizon channels 29/30, Roku, Apple TV, or even online.

The shows are just the start, however. There will also be three days of events, presented in conjunction with PhillyCAM’s PPM FEST that will launch the retrospective, and offer opportunities for filmmakers to connect and lift up the civic importance of ‘Philadelphia Stories.’

According to the release, starting on Wednesday, Oct. 27, Philadelphians can check out ‘Telling Philly Stories’, a conversation with local filmmakers Shameka Sawyer (5 Shorts), Ted Passon (Philly DA) and Michelle Angela Ortiz (Las madres de Berks) from 1 to 2 p.m. The event will be moderated by Rashid Zakat and will cover how the filmmakers draw inspiration from our city and what responsibility they have as storytellers to their fellow Philadelphians.

Pictured are Director Elizabeth Fiend and Mary Seton Corboy (Founder of Greensgrow Farms) featured in ‘Philadelphia Stories’ Season 3, Episode 11.Provided

The following day on Oct. 28, there will be an event titled ‘A conversation with Hébert Peck’, producer of the series, followed by the Retrospective launch featuring a showcase of short works by Maori Karmael Holmes, Nadine Patterson, Anula Shetty, Michael O’Reilly, Frances McElroy and others. This will take place from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m.

Finally, on Saturday Oct. 30, from 3 to 7 p.m. there will be a virtual reality pop-up in a garden in the Norris Square neighborhood, celebrating African heritage and the West African diaspora in Puerto Rican culture at the Villa Africána Colobó Garden, 2263 Palethorp Street.

In all, these conversations and reflection are meant to not just re-visit some stories, but to also help create inspiration for more stories in a city that is chock full of culture, energy and innovation.

Peter Schlotterer is pictured in ‘Philadelphia Stories’ Season 2, Episode 2.Provided

A full schedule can be found online of both the events and episodes of ‘Philadelphia Stories RETROSPECTIVE: A 20th Anniversary Look Back.’ For more information visit phillycam.org


Metro is one of more than 20 news organizations producing Broke in Phillya collaborative reporting project on economic mobility. Read more at brokeinphilly.org or follow on Twitter at @BrokeInPhilly

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