Two Eyes | QFest St. Louis 2022

Travis Fine’s Two Eyes (April 30, 1:15 pm and remotely) intertwines three stories, taking place across more than a century, which explore the different ways the characters find to express queerness and nonstandard gender identities in worlds hostile to their very existence. The three stories are tied together in various ways, and the result is a collective portrait of how people can find the space to be different, and to rejoice in their difference, independent of what the world around them wants them to be.

Two Eyes begins in present day Wyoming, where Jalin (Ryan Cassata), a young trans musician, responds to the end of a relationship by trying to take his own life. Fortunately, he meets up with Andrea (Kate Bornstein), a trans, non-binary psychologist who runs programs for LGBTQ+ youth in Laramie (not coincidentally the city in which Matthew Shepard was murdered). Andrea is exactly the kind of calm, wise guiding spirit that Jalin needs, and provides the support and understanding which everyone deserves to find in their hour of need.

In the mid-19th century, a British banker named Dihlon (Benjamin Rigby) leaves his family and moves to Montana, where he hopes to find inspiration as a painter. He employs Jacy (Kiowa Gordon), a Native American guide, and the two men soon find themselves attracted to each other. As they venture through rural Montana, Jacy introduces Dihlon to other indigenous people, including the two-spirit Poopahte (Samuel Jaxin Enemy-Hunter). Avery Holliday’s cinematography is good throughout this film, but it particularly soars in this section, as the majestic landscape of Montana provides a spectacular backdrop to the developing bond between Dihlon and Jacy.

In 1979, Gabryal (Uly Schlesinger) attends high school in a small town in California while pursuing his interests in photography. Life is dull, but things perk up quickly with the arrival of an exchange student named Alasen (Jessica Allain), who is as bold as Gabryal is passive. Before Gabryal knows what hit him, he’s off to Hollywood with Alasen. There, they meet up with Alasen’s queer friend Thandi (Nakhane, who also contributes four songs to the soundtrack), a stage performer who lives with their boyfriend. Their life offers Gabryal a glimpse of what his could be if he has the courage to take a risk and step away from the half-life he’s currently leading.

The expression “two eyes” is explained by one character to mean being able to see the world both as a woman and as a man, an ability which should be celebrated rather than condemned. Each segment of Two Eyes explores a story of someone with that ability, and the three stories are tied together to create a sort of collective portrait of people who did not conform to contemporary expectations and yet found ways to thrive in the world. | Sarah Boslaugh

All QFest films will be shown at the Galleria 6 Cinema in Richmond Heights. Individual tickets are $15 for general admission and $12 for Cinema St. Louis members and students with valid ID; five-film passes and all-access passes are also available. The shorts programs and two features—The Unabridged Mrs. Vera’s Daybook and Two Eyes—are also available for home viewing in Missouri and Illinois from April 29 through May 5. Proof of full vaccination or a negative PCR test from the previous 72 hours is required for in-person screenings. Further information is available from the Cinema St. Louis website

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