PhillyCAM examines the rise and reputation of Frank Rizzo

‘Amateur Night’
‘Amateur Night’

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.

It shined a spotlight especially on the local filmmakers while featuring all genres of filmmaking, according to a news release. 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 – began presenting “Philadelphia Stories RETROSPECTIVE: A 20th Anniversary Look Back” as a visual time capsule last October. These programs are being re-broadcast to shine a spotlight on the city and its evolution over the past 20 years, and one of its most provoking episodes on a polarizing character premieres Jan. 20.

‘Amateur Night’Provided

That edition of “Philadelphia Stories” will cover the controversial former police commissioner and mayor of Philadelphia, Frank L. Rizzo. But this peek into the past is a little different.

Along with the showing of Director Robert Mugge’s 1978 documentary “Amateur Night At City Hall,” there will also be a panel discussion titled “Unpacking and Undoing the Harm of the Rizzo Administration —A Conversation with Movement Leaders.” The award-winning and critically acclaimed documentary film chronicles the impactful rise of Frank L. Rizzo from cop on the beat, to law-and-order police commissioner, to mayor of America’s fourth-largest city. It’s also described as a historical gem, which illustrates key events in Rizzo’s controversial career while capturing the essence of Philadelphia’s reputation as a city of neighborhoods.

A panel of movement leaders will use the film as a jumping-off point to discuss how to counteract the oppressive legacy of Rizzo’s law and order policing and what groundbreaking work is being done to reform the city’s criminal justice system, the release also states. Panelists will discuss their work to end cash bail, end mass incarceration, promote police accountability and remove symbols of oppression like the Rizzo mural in South Philly and statue across from City Hall.

‘Amateur Night’Provided

Panelists include: Kris Henderson or Nikki Grant (Amistad Law Project), Candace McKinley (Philadelphia Community Bail Fund) and Reuben Jones (Frontline Dads). The conversation will be moderated by Dr. Linn Washington (Temple University). More information can be found online at

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