Hope Springs Eternal on the Mean Streets of Camden, NJ

In Camden, NJ,  one of the most dangerous and poverty stricken cities in America, a group of young people prove that ordinary folks, working together, can bring about positive change that profoundly alters the direction of people’s lives.

Filmmakers Steve Ercolani and Gabe Dinsmoor document the story of Camden’s Pyne Poynt Park.  Not long ago, the park was a drug strewn vacant lot.  Today it’s a thriving neighborhood playground where children can forget the desolation and despair of urban decay and feel the power of sports, of teamwork, of the sun shining on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, of hope and of optimism.

In Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman, one of America’s great poets, referred to his hometown of Camden as the “Invincible City.”  Indeed, Camden, located across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, was once a thriving industrial center, the largest shipbuilding port in America, a major railway hub, and home to RCA Victor and Campbell’s Soup, among other big industries.  That is until the post-industrial crash when, starting after W.W.II, industry left en masse, and white flight, race riots and rampant political corruption decimated the city.

Today, Camden is still plagued by poverty, crime and urban decay, but it is slowly, surely coming back. As if responding, belatedly, to Walt Whitman’s call to be “Invincible”,  crime and poverty rates are down in Camden, police are getting out of their cars and interacting with the community, and redevelopment is occurring downtown.

Pyne Poynt is a beautifully told documentary, an inspiring version of the American Dream, in which hope springs eternal on the mean streets and vacant lots of Camden, New Jersey.  It is a story about those who have refused to be beaten down by poverty and crime and who  have fought against all odds to better their lives and give their children the opportunity to succeed.

The documentary, which originally premiered at the New York Independent Film Festival this Spring,  will be shown at WHYY Studios, 150 6th Street, Philadelphia, Monday, July 25, at 7pm, during the Democratic National Convention.

Tickets are available online.  This is a must see film.  We hope to see you there.