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Philadelphia Diary

Philadelphia is a tough and beautiful place. Philadelphia Diary presents the humor, poetry and drama of everyday life in the City of Brotherly Love.

Philadelphia writers Bruce Graham, Michael Hollinger, and Sonia Sanchez wrote the script. Story elements -- plot, themes, and characters - were inspired by a series of interviews conducted by the film's director and coordinating producer, Glenn Holsten and Grace Raynor, with 50 Philadelphians last summer.

The film takes place in a 24-hour period - from dawn of July 3 to dawn of July 4 -- and tells the story of Philadelphians living in three different neighborhoods. Preparations for the city's "Welcome America! Celebration" provides a rich and colorful backdrop for these neighborhood dramas. Radio and television news reports of the citywide celebration weave the different story-lines together...

Beverly and Ramona
On July 3, Beverly Johnson begins each day like the one before, sweeping the porch of her West Philadelphia home. Today she has a journey ahead of her. She travels by bus and subway from West Philadelphia to her daughter's home in North Philadelphia. Beverly is going to pick up her grandchildren, to take them to live with her. While in transit, Beverly reflects on her daughter, Ramona, once an activist -- full of life and conviction. When she arrives, Beverly encounters a different person, a shell of the daughter she raised. Drugs have ravaged Ramona, and Beverly believes Ramona is no longer able to care for her two children. It is a long, difficult day. Beverly and Ramona talk, argue, and, for the first time in many years, listen to each other, and come to a quiet understanding. As night falls, Beverly takes the two children from their mothers' home, out from the wars around them, to her own. Beverly, Nia and Shaquille travel back to West Philadelphia, via bus and subway, to begin to work together to be a family.

Lucy and Jamal
On July 3, mural artist Lucy Wolf wakes, grateful for one more day of sunshine, and attempts to finish a mural she is painting in a West Philadelphia neighborhood. This mural is across the park from Beverly's home. Each day Lucy and her crew make progress on the mural. Each night, however, neighborhood youths deface the mural with a mysterious tag -- "Zapp." On this day, Lucy intends to complete the mural - no matter how long it takes -- to honor her vow to the neighborhood. As night falls, Lucy (who battles with a life-threatening disease, Lupus) works to complete the mural with the help of her car headlights. That evening, she battles with the neighborhood youths who have repeatedly vandalized her artwork. As they argue, they tell Lucy that she has painted over a memorial wall, which they dedicated to their friend. After they come to a moment of understanding, Lucy and the youths work until dawn to paint a new mural for their neighborhood -- one that beautifies the neighborhood, and honors their friend, Zapp.

Curt and Suze and Mickey
Suze and Curt Kowalski are celebrating their three-week wedding anniversary in their new South Philadelphia home. They are also learning how to live with the eccentricities of their next-door-neighbor, Mickey -- a retired boxer and recluse who has lived in the neighborhood for many, many years.

On July 3, Suze is off from work. The beauty parlor that she works in is closed for the holiday. She uses this time to introduce herself to her next door neighbor, Mickey. Mickey feeds pigeons outside his home everyday. Pigeon droppings make a mess of the neighborhood, much to the horror of Suze's husband, Curt. Mickey lives alone amidst his boxing trophies, faded newspaper accounts of a career of near glory.

On July 3, Curt is supposed to stay home from work. It's no holiday for Curt, however. He is an engineer for SEPTA, who drives a train on the Broad Street Line. Yesterday a man took his own life by jumping in front of Curt's train. Curt is deeply affected by this death, however, he is in denial, and reports for work anyway. Instead of going home, Curt stops by a local bar. He emerges sometime later, a few beers under his belt, with an idea to rid the neighborhood of pigeons - firecrackers. He returns home, and lights a few firecrackers -- his wife and Mickey emerge from the house, it turns out that Suze has been giving Mickey a haircut. A conflict ensues, and the retired boxer comes out of retirement as he KO's Curt on their South Philadelphia street.

With Suze as a mediator, Mickey and Curt work through their differences. Mickey reveals that he feeds the pigeons in memory of his wife, Angelina, who recently passed away. She loved pigeons, and used to feed them in the city's parks. Mickey has lost his driver's license, and has no way to get to the park - Curt offers up SEPTA know-how. Their story ends with Curt escorting Mickey on public transportation for the first time in his life.

Philadelphia Diary depicts a city rich in history, a city rich in its diversity, a city proud of its heritage, a city struggling everyday to remain whole.

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