Vision Portraits

VISION PORTRAITS (2019) is an unrated documentary and has a run time of 78 minutes. This film will screen at Cinema Touching Disability Friday, October 18, 2019.

VISION PORTRAITS poster: Low lit close up of a downcast face in profile, with bright, colorful circles of out of focus lights in the background.VISION PORTRAITS is director Rodney Evans’ personal story of going on a scientific and artistic journey to better understand the ramifications of his deteriorating vision.

His aim is to come to a deeper sense of knowledge through illuminating portraits of three artists: a photographer (John Dugdale), a dancer (Kayla Hamilton), and a writer (Ryan Knighton).

The film specifically focuses on the ways each artist was impacted by the loss of their vision and the ways in which their creative process thrives in spite of their blindness.

John Dugdale (below, left) slowly loses his vision at thirty-two in St. Vincent’s Hospital at the height of the AIDS epidemic, due to cytomegalovirus (CMV) retinitis and continues to take photos with the sliver of sight that remains in one eye.

Ryan Knighton (below, middle), a punk rock teenager, is diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa on his 18th birthday and finds writing as his salvation through the process of going blind.

Black and white photo of a man unclothed from the waist up, crossing his arms over his stomach and, with eyes closed, turns his gaze off camera.  A smiling man with a white cane and red-lensed glasses holds a microphone up to his mouth.  A woman looks directly at the camera with lowered eyelids and an unamused expression.

Kayla Hamilton (above, right) was born with no vision in one eye and has very minimal peripheral and night vision in the other due to glaucoma and iritis. She incorporates her unique perspective on the world and embodies resilience and empowerment in her solo dance piece, Nearly Sighted.

All of the subjects are deeply influenced and motivated by the power of art to heal and transform. As Evans participates in a medical procedure, the film follows the evolution of the changes in his vision throughout the process from an insider’s perspective and gives the viewer access to all of the emotions (positive and negative) that this entails.

From a 3/4 angle, a man rides the subway with his eyes closed, leaning back against his seat. He grasps a white cane loosely in both hands.The film is told from Evans’ (right) perspective as a filmmaker, who was diagnosed with a rare genetic eye condition in early 1997 called retinitis pigmentosa resulting in the loss of my peripheral vision and much of my night vision. As a filmmaker with only twenty percent of his visual field remaining, he is forced to work in new, more collaborative ways while also being part of a long tradition of artists seeing in highly idiosyncratic ways.

Photo credits: John Dugdale by John Dugdale. Ryan Knighton by Ryan Knighton All others by Kjerstin Rossi.

View the trailer below.

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