Rapper Rhymefest seeks father, becomes father

In My Father’s House is a ‘simple and heartbreaking’ film

Star Rating 3.5/5

“75 per cent of black kids are raised in a home with a single parent,” Che “Rhymefest” Smith points out in the opening scenes of the simple, yet heartbreaking documentary In My Father’s House.

In My Father’s House shows the emotional and vulnerable journey of Grammy award-winning rapper Smith’s pursuit to reconnect with his long-lost father, Brian Tillman, after deciding to buy his childhood home in Chicago’s South Side.

After settling down with his wife, Smith decides that he has to reconnect with the man who abandoned him as a child 25 years earlier. At this point in his life Smith is grappling with his own failings as a parent, as he is a father of four children with different women.

In the film, Smith recalls moments with his dad including going to a movie or the odd-ball games and all of the affections that come from having a father. Some of these memories include the lingering smell of alcohol, as Smith reflects on his father’s 20-year struggle with drinking.

Speaking with relatives, Smith finds out that his father is experiencing homelessness and struggling with alcoholism. Seeing his father so decrepit, instigated a burning desire in Smith to help his dad sober up and become a permanent part of his family’s life.

What makes this documentary so powerful is that African-American culture can be very secretive when it comes to life experiences, but Smith shamelessly shows us the results of breaking a cycle of hurt and pain that people endure without a father figure.

The film does not dive deep into the problem of absent fathers in the black community and it does not need to. In My Father’s House tells a passionate story of change, rejection, resentment and happiness, feelings that we can all relate to.

In My Father’s House, directed by Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg, is part of the Toronto Black Film Festival, which runs from Feb. 10 to 14. The film will be showing on Feb. 13 at 3:00 p.m. in the Art Gallery of Ontario.

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Rapper Rhymefest seeks father, becomes father