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This is the latest installment of “Breaking Black,” a weekly column focused on emerging black talent.
in A24’s “The Last Black Man in San Francisco,” actor Jimmie Fails stars as Jimmie Fails who, like him, is a 20-something black man whose grandfather once owned a Victorian home in the rapidly gentrifying Fillmore District. Fails wrote the script with Rob Reichert and director Joe Talbot, and it’s easy to see it as a story about racism and the rapid-fire cultural displacement that has come to identify the Bay Area.
Fails - Point - Story - Family - Nature
While all of that may be true, Fails said it also misses the precise point: It’s actually more a story about family, the fleeting nature of love and happiness, and fighting to find one’s place in an evolving world.
“When I lost my house, which is what happens in the movie, it wasn’t at all because of gentrification,” Fails said. “It is about San Francisco changing, but that’s not what we set out to make a film about.”
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In the film, Fails teams with his eccentric best friend Mont (Jonathan Majors) in an attempt to reclaim the home his grandfather built in the heart of San Francisco. With a single-minded focus that blinds him to the reality of his situation, Fails struggles to reconnect with his family and construct a community. As they search for belonging in a changing city that seems to have left them behind, they embark on a nostalgic journey inhabited by skaters, squatters, street preachers, and other marginalized locals.
Reality - Fails - Grandfather - Home - Fillmore
In reality, Fails’ grandfather bought a Victorian home when the Fillmore District was a middle-class black neighborhood. When Fails was in elementary school, his grandfather died and his family fell into a financial crisis that led to foreclosure, eviction, and further personal...
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