Inmate #1: The Rise of Danny Trejo (2020)

Danny Trejo began his thirty year career as the epitome of the “That One Guy” actor, appearing in so many bit parts and yet he was so easy to recognize. But when he was suddenly catapulted in to fame, he became the idea of what many envision as the American Dream. He also became the quintessential prisoner makes good tale, and his journey is as riveting as you’d assume it is. For fans of the man like me, “Inmate #1” is a riveting and down to Earth exploration of Trejo’s journey of redemption.

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Feels Good, Man (2019) [Fantasia Festival 2020]

Director Arthur Jones’ documentary is probably one of the most important and depressing films of the last five years. It’s mainly a movie that doesn’t just touch upon the snowballing of a mascot for pure hatred and violence, but the horrifying power of the internet and its litany of sub-cultures. It also explores the little known fact that its original artist never intended to give it the kind of purpose that’s given it a notorious unstoppable life inside and outside of social media.

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Hail to the Deadites (2019) [Fantasia Festival 2020]

Steve Villeneuve’s “Hail to the Deadites” is a documentary about “Evil Dead” that touts itself as not featuring any kind of footage from the original films at any point. You’d think that would hinder the experience, but that only benefits the feature in the end. “Hail to the Deadites” is an unabashed love letter to the fans and the fans only. It explores the various facets of “Evil Dead” fandom, how all three movies have affected their lives, and how Bruce Campbell has become a source of inspiration to many.

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Clapboard Jungle (2019) [Fantasia Festival 2020]

Justin McConnell’s “Clapboard Jungle” is essentially about artistic pursuit and the search to grab even the slightest success in a world filled with artists. How does an artist make it in a world where millions of others are working night and day to make theirs heard? How do you thrive without competing or stepping over others? How do you stave off imposter syndrome? And in a climate of consistently rotating and interchangeable titles, is it even possible to deliver anything fresh or appealing in cinema anymore?

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Morgana (2019) [Fantasia Festival 2020]

Isabel Peppard and Josie Hess’s “Morgana” is a documentary begging to be turned in to a feature film. It’s a wonderful and heartbreaking account of sexual repression, forced domesticity and using pornography as a means of re-claiming individuality. “Morgana” is short, but it’s an engaging journey in to the life of Morgana Muses, who suddenly found herself without the demands of a marriage that offered zero fullfilment. When she’s finally free she has no idea what to do with herself. That is until she realizes sex is a big part of what kept her from blossoming as a woman and adult.

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Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street (2019)

Critically maligned when it was first unleashed on the world and was bashed for years by fans, “Freddy’s Revenge” is a movie that caught the fan base by surprise. With the advent of the internet, fans have been able to appreciate the sequel to one of the most influential horror movies as a classic in its own right. It’s a sentiment that’s managed to spread along the entire horror community as more queer horror fans have found “Freddy’s Revenge,” allowing Freddy Krueger to reach a part of society that reached beyond dreams and in to the sub-conscious in to ideas about self acceptance and repressed sexuality.

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Mucho Mucho Amor (2020)

When I was a kid growing up in the Bronx, everyone knew who Walter Mercado was. When he was on Telemundo we would all remain in complete awe and silence as he dominated the screen with an almost supernatural presence. Filled with charisma, theatrical enthusiasm, and flamboyance, Mercado gave the latinx community astrological readings that were almost always steeped in hope, optimism, and spirit. Along the way he broke barriers becoming a worldwide sensation as a guru who defied gender, sexual, and style barriers everywhere he went.

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