The Backyard Philly Project -- a film by FPCB's Amanda Danziger

Contemporary worship assistant, Amanda Danziger, and her film organization Ferasha Films will bring their award-winning film back to their roots for a one-night screening event at First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem on October 12 at 6 pm. The film focuses on the stories of four teens growing up in a poverty-stricken neighborhood in the center of Philadelphia, and has been remade in a brand new way. The event is free and you can reserve tickets at

Premiering in Philadelphia in May 2013, “The Backyard Philly Project” has since won awards and accolades at film festivals near and far, including; “Best Documentary” and “Best Feature” at the 2013 Greater Lehigh Valley Filmmaker Festival, “Feature-Length Independent Film of the Year” at the 2013 Philly Geek Awards, and more. The film has been recut and the new version will officially be premiered at FPC Bethlehem on October 12.

Danziger also premiered her film, “Threads of Hope,” at the church in 2010.


“We planned a screening of the film at FPC last fall, but had to cancel due to scheduling conflicts,” said Danizger. “We’re very excited to share this special version of the film with the church community.”

Poverty is a painful reality for many Philadelphians. Recent studies from the Pew Research Center show that over one out of every four residents of Philadelphia live in poverty - the second highest of the U.S.’s twenty-five largest cities. The cycle of poverty, addiction and violence is one that plagues many neighborhoods, like Penn Town: the focus of The Backyard Philly Project and four teens who struggle to break free of its grip.

The four teens featured in “The Backyard Philly Project” were provided their own video cameras to document their everyday lives and to share their stories of growing up mere blocks from Center City Philadelphia and the Liberty Bell. The film gives a voice to the teens, whose lives have been plagued with violence, poverty, and gaps in the city’s education system.

The teens’ stories center around the Helping Hand Rescue Mission located in the heart of Penn Town. Filming began in October 2011 and concluded in June 2012. What makes this documentary special is that much of the material was filmed by the teens themselves.

“When we began this project, four of us commuted to Philly from the Lehigh Valley to film and collaborate,” said Cinematographer Bruce Kite. “Now that the five of us are scattered in different places, it’s great to bring the project back home after it’s achieved so much.”

Danziger, a 2006 graduate of Parkland High School, founded Ferasha Films in 2008. She was named to Drexel University’s elite “Forty Under 40” list of successful young alumni, and was also featured in Femme and Fortune magazine and Philadelphia’s RAW: Artists.

In addition to Danziger and Kite, Ferasha Films consists of Director of Still Phortography Nienke Izurieta, Art Director Lucas Clauser (also a member of FPCB) and Director of Communications Brendan Schaller. All five are natives to the Lehigh Valley.

Although a small area, the Penn Town neighborhood consists of 400 housing units, mere blocks away from historic Philadelphia sites, including the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. The Helping Hand Rescue Mission, which is funded by the Kyle Korver Foundation, serves as a safe haven for the neighborhood. Youth Director Adam Bruckner, who runs the after school programs at Helping Hand, has been a major contributor to the film.

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