One of the spotlight artists for the fall season of Gibney, a Manhattan-based dance and social justice organization, is Rodney Evans from Jamaica.
Evans, a fiction and documentary filmmaker, will be a part of the “Sorry I Missed Your Show,” free virtual creative talk on Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. via Zoom.
During the creative talk from the social justice organization, Evans, who is Black, queer and has low-vision, will have a chance to discuss his work “Vision Portraits,” which follows other artists who are visually impaired, according to Gibney. Audiences will get an insider’s view into the context, developmental process and outcome of the work, while also having the opportunity to pose questions and have a dialogue with the director.
“Vision Portraits creatively explores the thoughts and journeys of visually-impaired artists in their own voices,” said Eva Yaa Asantewaa, the senior director of curation and editorial director at Gibney, via email. “Connecting with Rodney Evans and bringing his work to Gibney’s audience has been on my mind since I first saw this exciting film in 2019 ... it’s a deep dive into his values and filmmaking process.”
“Visions Portraits” celebrated its world premiere at the 2019 South by Southwest Film Festival in the Documentary Feature Competition and played theatrically in major U.S. cities from August to October 2019. It won the award for Best Documentary at Frameline, The San Francisco International LGBTQ + Film Festival in 2019. It aired nationally on the series “America ReFramed,” screened virtually for a week at the Whitney Museum in July 2020 and started streaming earlier this year on The Criterion Channel, which features art-house, classic and independent movies.
“I’m a low-vision filmmaker,” said Evans. “I started to question how I will continue making films if my vision deteriorated. That led me to wanting to have conversations with blind and low-vision artists from different mediums.”
Featured in the documentary are John Dugdale, a photographer from Connecticut; Kayla Hamilton, a dancer from the Bronx who will be on the creative talk with Evans; and Vancouver author Ryan Knighton, who, like Evans, has retinitis pigmentosa, a condition that can give one tunnel vision.
Knighton is also a television writer for the series “In the Dark,” which is on the CW Network and features a blind-lead character.
Evans was diagnosed with his condition 20 years ago.
“I have central vision that is very clear,” said Evans. “I have no peripheral vision.”
The documentarian considers his disability to be an asset on film sets.
“It can get chaotic [on sets],” said Evans. “It helps me focus on the actors or the person who is the main participant in the documentary ... it helps me to block out the excess that has nothing to do with direction. I have found the condition can be beneficial in the filmmaking process.”
Evans is also featured in the film as he illustrates what led to him seeking help for his vision.
“I would be on a crowded subway platform and suddenly someone would appear,” said Evans. “It would be like one-inch from my face and I would be startled due to my lack of peripheral vision.”
Evans hopes the film will raise awareness about people who are low-vision or visually impaired, because such people do have some level of sight and they do not need as much assistance as someone who is blind.
“There are negative associations with that because people have their own associations with disability and what you might need,” said Evans, who uses a red and white cane. “I’ve had people grab my arm without asking me whether I need them to grab my arm or if I need their help. They would yank you towards a subway door. It was quite startling, because you would not expect someone to just touch you.”
Through making the film, Evans has gained a community of other low-vision and visually impaired artists.
Gibney’s box office can be reached via email at email@example.com. Reach out to Marketing & Audience Services Manager Kimiko Tanabe for ticketing inquiries or requests.