“Tent City,” a New Oakland Film About Homelessness, Despair and Hope

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Cicero Jacobs and his daughter Siriyah speak to each other briefly in a scene from ‘”Tent City.” Photo courtesy of Tent City film.

“Tent City,” a new short film (28 minutes) that comes out of Oakland, tells the story of a man who ends up living on the streets when he falls into a deep depression after his wife dies from cancer.

The film by Writer/Director Adimu “WolfHawkJaguar” Madyun, follows the struggle of a young girl as she and family members hunt for her homeless dad, Cicero Jacobs, who has disappeared into Oakland’s growing homeless encampments. Lead actor Sizwe Andrews-Abakah plays Jacobs, and Abakah’s real-life daughter, Saba Andrews- Abakah, plays Siriyah, who is searching for her father.

Dealing with the anguish that one family is facing, the film resonates with the chal­lenges and pain that so many families are facing daily as they struggle to survive in a country without a safety net. “Tent City highlights the impact of unprocessed grief on mental health in America, the toll that gentrification has taken on the city of Oakland (and nationwide) and ignites a call to action to reclaim our hu­manity in the midst of our ever changing world,” according to the filmmakers’ website.

“In a city of tents, every tent has a story,” the website says.

The film was shot on a tight budget over three days at the end of 2018, utilizing a rented top-quality video camera, said Madyun. “We were able to come together, putting up the money ourselves. It was a kind of magical journey.”

A number of the members of the team who made the film, including Madyun and Sizwe Andrews-Abakah, have years of experience working as teachers and implementing restorative justice programs with young people in Oak­land. Abakah is founder of Spearitwurx at spearitwurx. com

Some of the others who have been involved in the film are: Tina Bathsheba Ha­rambe, who plays Ms. High Tower, a social worker look­ing for answers why Jacob’s daughter was never picked up after school on the day he went missing; director of pho­tography Luis Montoya; King Oba Ogunlano; ShakaJamal; and Ayodele Nzinga.

There will be a screening of “Tent City” at the Grand Lake Theater, 3200 Grand Ave., on Tuesday, Aug. 13, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The Brotherhood of Elders Network is partner­ing with the Tent City team to sponsor the Grand Lake The­ater showing.

For more information on the movie or to purchase tick­ets, go to tentcitythemovie.com

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