Throughout Jacinta, we see Calynn grow from 10 to about 14. She lives with relatives away from the neighborhood and people that are part of the fabric of drug culture. There’s a growing consensus that addiction may be as much about context as it is physiological, so while it never occurs to Jacinta or Rosemary to radically change where and with whom they live. But, this approach seems to have saved Caylynn from suffering her mother’s fate, at least so far. After release, Jacinta returns to this area and eventually is re-arrested, electing to stay incarcerated instead of living in fear of the drug dealers from whom she’s stolen $60,000. She also decides to go back to prison to be with her mother.
Documentaries about addiction and incarceration are an emotional slog, and there are probably only so many of them that one can absorb without going numb. Another film similar to Jacinta, Higher Love, sports an equally heart-wrenching tale of another child at risk, encompassing the best and worst of humanity in the living hell of addiction’s despair. These tales are coming faster and harder now.
“We chew our nails throughout, hoping for the best for the young girl…”
Earnshaw shows us a different angle on the problem by focusing on Caylynn. We chew our nails throughout, hoping for the best for the young girl, as things seem hopeless for both Rosemary and Jacinta. This may be premature, as either one or both of them could have a moment of clarity and step away from the life that’s claimed them to pursue a better path. It’s a lifetime commitment, but the alternative is the chronic horror of living under the brutal regime of addiction.
Earnshaw came to the story of Jacinta as an award-winning photojournalist based in New York, whose work focuses on criminal justice and healthcare. In 2015, she received a fellowship to photograph aging in American prisons and made Jacinta as part of that body of work. Her filmmaking is direct, honest, and compassionate, and her debut film portends more great things ahead for her.
Jacinta screened at the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival.
"…direct, honest, and compassionate..."