Filmmakers Mike Kuetemeyer and Anula Shetty teamed up with lifelong community residents Fred Harris and Q Tate to investigate the question: how does change happen in our neighborhood? To find out, they told the stories of a local “power grid” of influential people.

 

“I’m realizing it’s our role now to tell the story of North Philly. Through making films, I’m learning about stuff I didn’t even realize was there. I didn’t know Ms. Nandi and Mr. Khalid still ran the Penny Candy store. I didn’t know Ms. O was up on Lehigh, healing people. I’d never seen a block as clean as Ms. Darlene’s. It’s kind of a push to find stuff out from the hood, for ourselves. North Philly is not a bad place. It’s not the place, it’s the people. And there are a lot of good people here.” — Neighborhood artist Frankin “Q” Tate

Filmmakers Mike Kuetemeyer and Anula Shetty teamed up with lifelong community residents Fred Harris and Q Tate to investigate the question: how does change happen in our neighborhood? They sought to identify and learn from a local “power grid” of influential people.

Two of the people they identified were Nandi and Khalid, an older couple that runs a penny candy store in the neighborhood. Through the lens of the project, Fred and Q realized that the Penny Candy Store is a unique public safety strategy. The two elders sell candy at a discount, but all as a way to offer kids a trusting adult relationship and a safe space to go after school. The team created a multimedia exhibit about the Penny Candy Store and hosted a party called the “Penny Candy Reunion.” The event screened a short documentary created by Fred, Q, Mike and Anula; displayed 400+ of Ms. Nandi’s thousands of photos of neighborhood children taken over the last 15 years; hosted a story-share booth; and served plenty of candy. 

By welcoming back the generations of children that Nandi and Khalid served, Fred and Q gathered volunteers to help them keep their block clean and continue supporting our neighborhood’s children.

Nandi and Khalid, and their candy store, are just two of the community leaders that will be featured in Places of Power, a multimedia documentary of the Fairhill-Hartranft neighborhood that Kuetemeyer and Shetty are continuing to develop. Places of Power will invite viewers to experience North Philadelphia through the eyes of its healers, artists and civic leaders. Hosted online as a web-based app and debuting in beta in 2017, its finished version will include in-depth film profiles of 4 remarkable North Philadelphia change agents, as well as stories, freestyles, cooking lessons, songs, and more collected through various creative research tactics.

Watch the first film in the Places of Power series, featuring Nandi, Khalid and the Penny Candy Store.

Anula Shetty

Award-winning filmmaker who explores the power of interactive documentary to create social change.
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