Entertainment » Movies

Vision Portraits

by Kitty Drexel
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Monday Oct 14, 2019
'Vision Portrait'
'Vision Portrait'  

"Vision Portraits" is a feature-length documentary by director Rodney Evans ("Brother to Brother") that explores and celebrates the lives of four artists who identify as blind or visually impaired. Between each interview with the artists, Evans discusses his own disability within the context of filmmaking. "Vision Portraits" run 78 minutes and is a recipient of a Frameline Completion Fund Grant. Evans is 2019's recipient of the Frameline Award.

Evans' loss of sight from a genetic eye condition called retinitis pigmentosa causes him to analyze what it means to be an artist living with limited eyesight. He interviews photographer John Dugdale, dancer Kayla Hamilton, and writer Ryan Knighton to better understand the universality of visual impairment. Between each interview, Evans disperses poetry over artistic renderings of the blind experience.

Each artist's perspective of their disability is as unique as their disability. Dugdale's blindness is a symptom of his AIDs diagnosis. He is full of life and welcomes the freedom that blindness will grant him. His art, created with the help of his assistants, balances light and shadow. Hamilton was born with functional sight in one eye. She was introduced to dancing as a child. Her 2017 dance concerts entitled "Nearly Sighted" asked her audience to wear eye patches to simulate Hamilton's blindness. Audience members bear witness to the art and the artist. Knighton is a writer and professor that finds humor in his disability origins. Documentary footage includes his performance of a comedic monologue about adventures in Sweetwater, TX for "The Moth." He says that writing about his blindness freed him from his trauma.

Dugdale, Hamilton, and Knighton express themselves with more maturity than Evans. They are presented as people at peace with their blindness. Evans is more anxious. That anxiety leaps off the screen at viewers. It is as if he is attempting to outrun the longevity of his disability. The documentary takes him from New York to Berlin, Germany to attempt treatments not found in the U.S. His sincerity in finding himself, in expressing the inexpressible allows us to have compassion for his physical and emotional journeys.

Evans discusses his personal feelings of exclusion from the filmmaking community for being Black and gay. He continues that he is reluctant to share his disability out of fear that he'll be even further ostracized.

Vision Portraits

An exploration of the creative paths of blind and visually impaired artists.


Runtime :: 78 mins
Language :: Silent
Country :: United States

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