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Published on Nov 8, 2010


Tent City is set in the near future during a time of economic collapse. Unemployment is in the double digits, and block after block of businesses and homes have been foreclosed and abandoned. Only the powerful few live in homes, while the rest must survive in the tent cities cropping up everywhere.

Matthew Ochoa, a renowned comic book artist in better times, has acquired a home at great personal cost: He has taken a job on a Resident Eviction Squad. Every day, he and his co-workers must forcibly evict unlucky homeowners who have fallen behind on their payments.

But things aren't much better at home. His relationship with his wife Sandra has become tense. Matthew's 11-year-old son Ivan is clearly furious at him, but refuses to explain why. Despite this, Matthew persuades Ivan to play their favorite game, Trapezoid. Using three random words as building blocks, Matthew and Ivan create a science fiction tale -- a story-within-a-story -- about a hapless corporate worker who learns to his horror that he is not a human being but is, in fact, a robot created to serve the company's nefarious purposes.
Tent City interweaves Matthew's life at his job with the story-within-a-story of the corporate robot. Matthew's workplace becomes increasingly untenable, and he finds himself identifying more and more with the character in his Trapezoid story. One day he must evict an elderly man who will clearly die alone in Tent City. Another day, he and his co-workers burst into a home only to find that its resident has committed suicide rather than face eviction.

One night, after finishing the next chapter in the story, Matthew learns from Ivan the real reason he has been upset. Ivan admits that he is ashamed of his father's new job; that his own best friend at school was recently evicted, and Ivan has become a pariah at school due to his father's profession. Deeply affected, Matthew must grapple with a painful choice: should he stay at his job and keep his family home, or quit the job and keep his family, even if it means living in Tent City?

Educators: get back to the future with your students! Check out ITVS's online series FUTURESTATES, short films fusing an exploration of social issues with elements of speculative and science fiction. Free companion lesson plans for grades 9-12 now available: http://futurestates.tv/about/for_educ...

Watch other episodes of FUTURESTATES:

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