By Rachael Crismond
CCC Journalism Program
CAMDEN – The film “Camden Love/Hate” had another showing in Camden City on Nov. 17 at the Conference Center at Camden County College. The movie is about six students from Camden County Youth Development who took a film class and ended up making a documentary.
“I am always the most nervous when I show the film in Camden,” said Daniel Meirom, the co-producer and director, because he’s always unsure how Camden residents will react to it.
Two of the filmmakers, Shamiera Andersen and Kimel Hadden, attended the community showing of the film, along with about 50 audience members. Rasheeda Moton Oton attended on behalf of her son Ja’Far Mohammad, one of the filmmakers, who is incarcerated on federal conspiracy charges of conspiring with two men to rob a drug house.
Flip Fripps, the visual effect consultant and host for the evening, told the crowd, “Sometimes the truth is not pretty, but the truth shall set you free.” The movie shows the raw nature of the residents of Camden, the good and the bad.
The film showed the students interviewing and filming Camden residents, asking them if they knew any history about the city. Most knew very little about Camden’s past. In the film, they spoke of Camden having many large department stores, movie theaters and industrial warehouses. The Campbell Soup Co. was one of the big industries in Camden. According to the movie, the number of businesses and residents in Camden decreased by half after the riots of the 1970s.
Oton, a social activist and longtime resident of Camden, said she moved to Saudi Arabia in the 1990s to show her children a different life. She intended to come back to her hometown. She did 17 years later and said “What happened to my city?” She was shocked to see the “demise” of her hometown.
“If I see kids on the street lookin’ like they could be trouble, I would call them over and get the pizza and just talk to them, make sure they are stayin’ out of trouble,” said Oton. She said she believes not all children are bad. She stated the children are the way to a better future for Camden, so she will help out in whatever way she can.
“Oh, believe me, the mayor has heard from me, a couple times,” said Oton. “Not enough authority is worried about our children, just about puttin’ them away.”
In describing the title of the film, Meirom said, “The love is there are so many wonderful things about Camden from the community to the rich history of the city. The hate is because I experienced the city through the eyes of the students and how they love the city in one end, but it’s a place where they have experienced a lot of hardship.”
The next showing of the film will be Dec. 2 at the University of Pennsylvania. The film was previously shown in Camden in April.