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Houston Matters

The Bigger Picture: Examining The Tie Between Identity And A Sense Of Place

Producer Joshua Zinn explores the bigger issues in the recent film “The Last Black Man in San Francisco,” specifically how the changes a city goes through over time affect local identity.



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For many of us, identity can have strong ties to where we grew up — or even the place we currently live. This is certainly the case for many Houstonians and Texans, as evidenced by the reaction to the recent Whataburger sale.

But beyond pride in one's local fast food establishments, some also have pride in the neighborhoods they come from, or the houses they first lived in, or even the spots where they used to hang out with friends.

That tie between identity and place is a major aspect of the new film “The Last Black Man in San Francisco.” It tells the story of Jimmie Fails, a San Francisco native who wants to reclaim an old Victorian house that his family used to live in and that he believes his grandfather built when he first moved to the area.

For Jimmie, the house and the neighborhood around it is part of who he is, but changes to the area over the years are challenging his notions and forcing him to reconsider his place in his hometown.

On this month's edition of The Bigger Picture, where Houston Matters examines the bigger issues in recent films, producer Joshua Zinn looks at how the changes a city goes through over time affect local identity.

In the audio above, he talks with Cary Darling, Houston Chronicle arts and entertainment editor, and Eureka Gilkey, Executive Director of the Third Ward-based arts organization Project Row Houses.