Have You Lost Your Mind Yet?. Photo: SF IndieFest

I don’t remember when I first became aware of Fantastic Negrito (born Xavier Amin Dphrepaulezz), but as soon as I heard him I knew he was a special talent. The Oakland-based performer has since gone on to record five long-playing records (three of which have won Grammys) and is now the subject of a feature-length documentary, Have You Lost Your Mind Yet?, screening as part of this year’s San Francisco Documentary Film Festival. DocFest takes place online and in-person from June 1-June 11.

Directed by Yvan Iturriaga and Francisco Nuñez Capriles, Have You Lost Your Mind Yet? tells the story of Fantastic Negrito’s journey from rural Massachusetts to Oakland and details his time in Los Angeles, where he briefly flirted with major label success in the 1990’s. When things didn’t work out in the Southland, Dphrepaulezz returned to The Town, reconnected with friend and future ‘Empire’ screenwriter Malcolm Spellman, and began to craft and perfect his unique blend of Black roots music and Afro-punk.

Iturriaga and Capriles give Dphrepaulezz plenty of screen time to tell his own story — and, unsurprisingly, he’s as good a storyteller as he is a songwriter and performer. Have You Lost Your Mind Yet? is a must-see for fans: It’s a film as fantastic as the subject it celebrates.

‘Satan Wants You’

Satan Wants You. Photo: SF IndieFest

Ignited by a best-selling book entitled Michelle Remembers, a Satanic panic spread across North America during the 1980s. Co-written by Canadian doctor Lawrence Pazder and his patient Michelle Smith, the book purportedly recounted a 14-month period in Smith’s life when her mother gave her to a coven that compelled her to watch and participate in their disturbing and grisly rituals. The outstanding Satan Wants You examines the panic itself and the odd couple who spawned it.

Featuring footage from ‘80s talk shows hosted by Geraldo Rivera, Sally Jesse Raphael, and others who helped fuel the fire, Satan Wants You draws a straight line from the 1980s (when innocent people were tried, and sometimes jailed, based on the testimony of highly suggestible toddlers) to the present day, where similar (and equally absurd) panics such as Pizzagate and QAnon have won the allegiance of many Americans. It’s a worrisome acknowledgment of the power of extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of crowds.

‘Join Or Die’

Join Or Die. Photo: SF IndieFest

Join or Die makes the case that the fate of America rests on a rebirth of civic engagement, whether through bowling teams or organizations such as the Odd Fellows and Kiwanis. Taking its cues from the theories of social scientist Robert D. Putnam (whose book Bowling Alone detailed his thesis of social capital), the film makes a reasonable case that an engaged society provides the soil in which democracy thrives. I might be more convinced if directors Rebecca and Pete Davis hadn’t relied so much on Beltway creatures like David Brooks and Pete Buttigieg to help make their point — and I doubt bowling is likely to make a comeback — but Join or Die provides valuable food for thought.

Also worth your while: Motel Drive, an examination of life on Fresno’s rundown motel row; Song of the Cicada, about a dedicated and eccentric Galveston, Texas, mortician; and We R Here, a brutally honest look at homelessness in the East Bay as filmed by unhoused locals.

Freelancer John Seal is Berkeleyside’s film critic. A movie connoisseur with a penchant for natty hats who lives in Oakland, John writes a weekly film recommendation column at Box Office Prophets, as...