Cathy Renna

'Two Spirits' Wins PBS Audience Award

Filed By Cathy Renna | July 06, 2011 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment
Tags: Fred Martinez, media, PBS, two spirits

PBS-Independent Lens announced yesterday that Two Sprits has received the Audience Award as the highest-rated film of the 2010-11 PaulaFredsgrave.jpgseason by online voting and other measures of audience support. As a member of the advisory board that help the film become a reality, I could not be more proud of the support and positive feedback we have gotten and how the story of Fred Martinez and the Native American tradition of celebrating gender diversity was accessible to millions.

We could not have done it without the support of the many diverse communities touched by this film and an amazing social media presence.

After the break: statement from the director and some interesting next steps for the film.


"Thank you to the PBS--Independent Lens audience for embracing TWO SPIRITS. Credit for the Audience Award can be claimed by those wonderful millions of people who are "the audience." They took this film into their hearts and shared it widely and they will continue to do so. The conversations taking place online about the film have been remarkable. People are truly interested in the complexities of gender--beyond superficial sound bites and divisive rhetoric--they want to really understand more about what it means to be masculine or feminine, or some rich combination of the two as Fred Martinez was. And people do really care about being fair and respectful and honoring others for who they are. We're in this together--LGBT and Two-Spirit people, and straight allies alike. These are our families, our relationships, our connections to colleagues and friends. I love Navajo Two-Spirit and scholar Wesley Thomas's statement in TWO SPIRITS, "We're all human, we're all the five fingered people."

"The 1,495 PBS broadcasts and over 100 Community Cinema screening events in June are just the beginning for TWO SPIRITS. Many viewers have written to suggest (and demand even) that we all work harder to make sure the film is seen in the roughly 10% of the country where the PBS broadcast didn't reach. And they want the film taught in more schools, seen by communities of faith, and placed with more nonprofit organizations. We're responding with a new initiative to make that happen so that this summer isn't the end, but is the beginning for the usefulness and reach of TWO SPIRITS.

We hope people will stay connected through websites and social media and through the natural links between groups of friends. Keep sharing these ideas! The gender map on the ITVS website is a great resource to share. And the trailer for TWO SPIRITS works like a PSA - people who just see that couple of minutes of the story learn something that can have an impact."

Interestingly, a prominent philanthropist once turned away our modest funding request saying, "No one knows, and no one cares," as his response to Fred's story and the message of the Native Two-Spirit tradition. But now that Two Spirits has aired with such success on PBS many people do know and do care. Now we can change even more hearts and minds.

PBS stations that chose to air Two Spirits covered about 90% of the country, but that leaves roughly 10 percent where the film is needed most and hasn't been seen. We're working quickly to target outreach and education efforts to place Two Spirits where it can do great good.

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Jay Kallio | July 6, 2011 8:26 PM

The message of Two Spirits resonates with all kinds of people. Interestingly, I first heard about it not from Cathy, but from an old friend, a straight women who had retired to Sedona, AZ, who wrote to me to tell me she had seen it at a film festival there, and how incredible it was. I couldn't wait for the PBS airing, so I had to google it and buy the DVD online ahead of time. You don't plug that option, but maybe some of the folks who didn't get to see it on PBS would also like to support the production and non profit fund you have set up and buy the DVD to watch, and show their friends. Maybe that would be a good way for the 10% who have not had access to enjoy it. Friends can have "watch" parties together.

I particularly appreciate Linda's positive message about how people do want to respect one another and be inclusive. Almost everyone I have ever met, irrespective of race, ethnicity, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, etc, has felt excluded, unwanted, and otherwise like an outsider at some point in life, and can empathize with that feeling. When we put down the fear and focus on all we have in common the love we can generate and share is phenomenal. :)