The El Duce Tapes


TIFF Lightbox 3 Fri, Apr 26, 2019 8:00 PM
Scotiabank Theatre 3 Sat, Apr 27, 2019 2:45 PM
Scotiabank Theatre 8 Sat, May 4, 2019 8:15 PM
Film Info
Country Listing:USA
Premiere Status:World Premiere
Festival Info
Festival Year:2019
Program Category:Nightvision
Film Subjects:America
Music & Musicians
Popular Culture
Race & Racism
Cast/Crew Info
Director(s):Rodney Ascher
David Lawrence
Interviews directed by Ryan Sexton
Producer(s):Tim Kirk
Editor(s):David Lawrence
Cinematography:Ryan Sexton
Composer:Jonathan Snipes
Sound:Jonathan Snipes


A wilfully offensive band, The Mentors gained infamy for performing in black executioner hoods and spewing cartoonishly racist, homophobic and misogynistic lyrics in the 1980s and ‘90s—but was their use of shock meant to propagate hate or confront it? Denounced by the US Senate, reviled on The Jerry Springer Show and unforgettable in Kurt & Courtney, The Mentors' lead singer, El Duce, occupied a brief zeitgeist moment. Ryan Sexton, an actor with roles on General Hospital and in local commercials, began to document El Duce's day-to-day life at this notorious peak. And it's his recovered VHS footage from 25 years ago that directors David Lawrence and Rodney Ascher sift through here to discover who El Duce really was. How much of his repellent persona was genuine? What does The Mentors' controversial output mean to pop culture and social commentary? And what role does parody, perversion and provocation play in challenging our ideas about art, morality and censorship? Angie Driscoll

Additional Information

  • NOW - 10 Must-See Hot Docs 2019 Films
  • NOW - 4 Stars
  • POV - "The film explores the tension between a real person and in this case a literal mask."