“Murder Most Foul”
A couple of years ago I had a conversation with an Anthropology graduate student who was researching the “Two Spirit” people. Having never heard of them, I asked her who and what were Two Spirit people and I found her description both fascinating and illuminating. Then I received this documentary and it went more into detail and I became very interested in the topic.”Two Spirits” is a look through culture at the horrible murder of Fred Martinez who was killed when he was just 16 years old and because he was gay. Director and filmmaker Lydia Nibley brings us this amazing film about the Navajo teen and in doing so she opens up discussion about Two Spirits people. Among the Navajos, a person who is considered to be Two Spirits is called a “nadleeh”, an individual who possesses a balance of masculine and feminine traits. Fred is the focus but the film is much more than just Fred Martinez; it is a look at gender at a time when the world consisted of not just male and female but integrated gender.
We learn that when to discriminations meet; it is a dangerous place to be. As a result Martinez lost his life to a teen who bragged that he had killed a “faggot”. Nibley balances “sex and spirit, tradition and controversy and freedom and fear and shows that the truth is somewhere in those issues and to make the choice to be oneself can result in danger.
If I had to choose one word to describe this film, it would be “beautiful”. It depresses and uplifts at the same time and makes us think. Paula Mitchell, the mother of Fred Martinez, shares her sorrow and gives us the picture of a woman whose life is changed drastically when she lost her son to a hate crime.
The movie is made up of a series of interviews by people who knew Martinez and others who have something to say about Two Spirits people. There is a lot to be learned here and I personally am so happy that now stories of minority cultures are coming to the fore and in learning about them, we learn about ourselves as well. We are going through a time when documentaries have not only never been better but also deal with important topics and it certainly feels like we are finally getting around to dealing with the history and values f the LGBT community. I quote Ann Braude, Director of the Women’s Studies in Religion Program and Senior Lecturer on American Religious History, Harvard Divinity School, in what she has to say about “Two Spirits”, the movie: “A rich and textured work that provides a focal point for many important conversations on campus [and everywhere]. It’s very moving to see the reactions, and the appreciation of so many people who feel that a deep aspect of their reality has been acknowledged and valued.”
- Posted in: GLBT Film