When 20-something Jimmie Fails was growing up in San Francisco, his family lost the three-story Fillmore home that his grandfather had built back in the 1940s. That story forms the centerpiece of Last Black Man in San Francisco, a nascent film now raising money on Kickstarter. Fails spent the rest of his childhood bouncing between foster homes and homeless shelters, but would go back to his family's house every month to imagine ways he could buy it back. The film, however, is about more than the lost house, and takes Fails' story (in which he plays a version of himself) as a starting point to explore a San Francisco that is changing racially, politically, and culturally. According to the Kickstarter page for the movie, which centers on Fails' character and a friend, it is "a story about two inseparable misfits who are searching for home in a city they can no longer call their own."
The concept teaser for the film went viral earlier this year and won the Best of Bernal award at last year's Bernal Heights Outdoor Cinema festival. Now, Fails and his filmmaker friend, director Joe Talbot, have put their project up on Kickstarter seeking $50,000 to turn it into a full-length narrative film. So far, they've raised more than half of the money that they need and have 22 days left in their campaign.
Their efforts come at a time when African Americans make up just 6 percent of San Francisco's population and areas like the Fillmore, which Fails notes was once the Harlem of the West, have changed dramatically. He talks about how his grandfather came west when there was nothing left for him down south. "Sometimes, I feel like there ain't nothing left for me here," he says. "But where am I supposed to go? Ain't shit west of here but water."