My Neighbor, Miguel Image

My Neighbor, Miguel

By Alan Ng | January 7, 2021

In the 1980s, San Francisco was a city that was larger than life, but also a city decimated by the AIDS crisis. In Danny Navarro’s short film, My Neighbor, Miguel, he spotlights one of San Francisco’s larger-than-life characters: his landlord Miguel.

Miguel is a 72-year-old gay artist, activist, and survivor. His artwork is eccentric. I’d describe it as sculptures made of recycled items and trash. He’s faced tragedy with the death of his true love, and he’s lived a long life considering he contracted HIV in the late 80s. He’s full of life, energy, and love. He essentially embodies the spirit of the city.

“…a powerhouse of positivity…”

If there is a theme to Miguel’s life, it’s in his art. He sees the potential in garbage. What we might see as empty fruit containers, old floppy disks, and pill bottles, Miguel finds something intrinsically beautiful transforming refuse into art and still doing it today. In the 80s, his friends and partners passed away from the AIDS epidemic, which forced him to find beauty amid tragedy. He continues to be a bright light in the community.

One might question whether Miguel is worthy of a documentary. Considering he is a powerhouse of positivity and optimism, isn’t that enough? Running at 13 minutes, My Neighbor, Miguel, is the perfect length to honor such a man and possibly change the way we see life in these dark times.

My Neighbor, Miguel (2020)

Directed and Written: Danny Navarro

Starring: Miguel, etc.

Movie score: 7.5/10

My Neighbor, Miguel Image

"…sees the potential in garbage."

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