AFI Movie Club: THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO – American Film Institute



THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO is about the city’s rapid gentrification and a man trying to reclaim a family home. Director/writer Joe Talbot and lead actor Jimmie Fails spoke to Fellows at a Harold Lloyd Master Seminar at the AFI Conservatory. Fails was also an Indie Contenders panelist at AFI FEST presented by Audi 2019.

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Watch director Joe Talbot and star Jimmie Fails talk the film:

Movie Trivia about Today’s Film

DID YOU KNOW? THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO marks the feature film debut of director Joe Talbot, who grew up in San Francisco and was childhood friends with lead actor and co-story writer Jimmie Fails. The film is based on true events in Fails’ life.

DID YOU KNOW? Joe Talbot – who did not finish high school and had no prior experience making movies – cold-emailed filmmaker Barry Jenkins to seek advice before making THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO. At that time, Jenkins had only made one feature film and was just about to start shooting MOONLIGHT, which went on the win an Oscar for Best Picture. He gave Talbot and Fails notes on their burgeoning project.

DID YOU KNOW? Joe Talbot and Jimmie Fails raised money for the film by launching a Kickstarter campaign, featuring a short trailer. After earning roughly $75,000 in one month, the project garnered national publicity and interest from studios. The project took over five years to complete.

DID YOU KNOW? Joe Talbot and Jimmie Fails made a short film that screened at the Sundance Film Festival, which drew the attention of Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment – which provided the financial backing for the production. The two also garnered interest from industry insiders, and secured representation deals with talent agency CAA.

DID YOU KNOW? The crew was predominantly made up of friends of Joe Talbot and Jimmie Fails from San Francisco, who had intimate knowledge of the filmmakers and the city.

DID YOU KNOW? Danny Glover, who performs the role of Mont’s grandfather, is also a San Francisco native. Jimmie Fails’ mother was cast as his actual mother.

DID YOU KNOW? In real life, first-time actor Jamal Trulove – who plays the role of Kofi – had been framed by the San Francisco police department for a murder he did not commit. He was cast for his personal connection to the character.

DID YOU KNOW? Jello Biafra –who plays the role of a tour guide – was the front man of the Dead Kennedys, a punk band famously from the Bay Area. Joe Talbot met Biafra while filming short behind-the-scenes sequences for a film noir festival at San Francisco’s Castro Theater.

DID YOU KNOW? THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO is not a stretch from the reality of African Americans living in that city. In 2019, only 6% of the population identified as Black, reflecting a monumental shift in the past several decades before big tech encroached on San Francisco.

DID YOU KNOW? THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO made its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, where it was honored with a Special Jury Prize for Creative Collaboration and a Best Directing Award for Joe Talbot.

DID YOU KNOW? THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO was hailed by critics, who – along with President Barack Obama – included it on their list of the best films of 2019.

Learn more at the AFI Catalog.


The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions

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-THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO addresses issues of gentrification and its impact on local communities. Have you noticed similar changes in your hometown to those represented in THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO? Why do you think neighborhoods prosper at the cost of losing cultural and ethnic diversity?

-Have you ever identified with an ethnic group or community that has been forcibly excluded, or evicted, from a neighborhood? What does it feel like to be removed from your familial environment, and how do you cope with the loss of what is known? Whether or not you have experienced dislocation first-hand, what do you imagine it feels like, and how is gentrification an allegory for other types of human transformation, such as coming of age and moving away from home?

-Describe Jimmie and Mont’s friendship. How are they similar and how are they different, and why is that important to the story?

-Why does Jimmie lie about the origin of his family home? Does he knowingly choose to live in a fantasy about the real world? What do you think the ending of the film implies about his ability to face reality?

-According to an interview with Jimmie Fails in Rolling Stone, THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO is “more than 20% autobiographical…Because it’s based on my life, there was a lot of stuff I got to cry out that I didn’t get to cry out at the time…I really felt older after.” What parts of the film seem the most autobiographical and personal? How is sharing intimate details of one’s life cathartic in THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO?

-Describe your favorite scene in THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO and explain why it is meaningful to you.


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