Cinema Q, Women + Film: Two Spirits
USA, 2009, 65 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Colorado, Documentary, GLBT, Religion, Social Issues, Teen Flick
Director Lydia Nibley IN-PERSON
Digital presentation - In 2001, 16-year-old Fred Martinez was brutally murdered near his hometown of Cortez, Colorado. He was poor, Navajo, and transgendered – a girl in a boy’s body. Fred was blessed to have grown up with the cultural belief there are four genders, not only male and female but mixed identities like his. Among his own people, he was accepted as nádleehí, a word that means “one who constantly transforms” in the Navajo language; it connotes a spiritual and sexual being who is also known to and honored by other Native American cultures as a “two-spirit person.” The traditional roles of such people have included healing, mediation, and the parenting of orphans. The tragedy of Fred’s life, however, is that also he grew up in small-town America, where far narrower views of both ethnicity and gender ultimately proved fatal to him.
This documentary by Lydia Nibley not only tells the story of the life and death of this youngest-ever victim of a hate crime but also delineates the larger context within which his murder occurred. Interviewees include Fred’s mother, family supporters, those who brought Fred’s killer to justice, and civil rights advocates and activists who found terrible but redemptive meaning in his death.
The film was produced by Denver-based nonprofit Just Media, whose recent contributions to the festival include the highly acclaimed Iron Ladies of Liberia (SDFF 30) and They Killed Sister Dorothy (SDFF 31). The soundtrack features music by Navajo composers as well as by rock icon and political activist Patti Smith. Two Spirits has been adopted by more than fifty groups for use in programs aimed at violence reduction, suicide prevention, LGBT equality, and the promotion of safe schools.
DIRECTOR: Lydia Nibley
Producer: Henry Ansbacher (exec), Lydia Nibley, Russell Martin
Editor: Darrin Navarro
Screenwriter: Lydia Nibley, Russell Martin
Cinematographer: David A. Armstrong
Official Film Website