Meet the Filmmaker: Lydia Nibley

Lydia Nibley

Name: Lydia Nibley

Home Town: Los Angeles, California

Lydia Nibley directing Two Spirits


Inspiration for Two Spirits: I’m fascinated by the interplay of the masculine and the feminine and think there’s a new frontier ahead, as we finally begin to work things out in a more sophisticated way.

The creative inspiration for Two Spirits came from three sources—a beautiful photograph of Fred Martinez with arms and head held high, taken just a few weeks before he was killed and only a few feet from the place where his body was found. The second is a haunting peyote chant that moves from a prayer in Navajo to the words “God bless America.” And the third is Patti Smith’s powerful song Gone Again, which has precisely the fierce and loving quality with which I wanted to end the film, leaving people with the depth of the loss and also a sense of hope. Those elements were touchstones to finding the right tone for the film.

The practical inspiration came from the hope that Two Spirits could provide an opportunity to explore gender and sexuality through a different lens—through beliefs and ideas that, while ancient, are still revolutionary in contemporary western culture. I’m convinced that this can be a time when we find a truly humane way to approach some of the most complex and interesting things life throws at us.

Female Role Model: I’m drawn to the work of directors who bring an unsentimental but humane eye to a story and execute it with intelligence and a strong artistic vision.

Favorite Recipe: One reasonably priced restaurant of good character and a respectable wine list. Add four adored friends, colleagues, or family members and my husband Russell Martin. Three hours or more. Alternative recipe—an intimate dinner party at the home of a friend who’s a great cook.

Favorite Book: It’s impossible to play favorites when so many are so dear.

Film Fetish: I confess to having a taste for cinema that ranges from the high-brow stuff we’re supposed to know and love, to middle-brow films with entertaining substance, and low-brow movies that are not “guilty pleasures” because I don’t feel guilty about them. I also confess to devouring films in quantities that are probably not healthy.


Bio: I’ve worked in film, television, radio, and stage production and am the co-creator of the original television pilot Rise. Two Spirits is my first feature film. In it I use a montage approach that incorporates intimate interviews, Southwest landscapes, and an eclectic palette of found footage to approach the rather complex subjects of the film as artistically as possible, rather than only journalistically.

I’m inspired by true stories that have a compelling reason to be told, and am also drawn to creating fictional stories that are well-researched. Filmmaking offers a seductive combination of working with character, image, and music, and although I often work as a writer in other endeavors, it is directing film that provides my most fulfilling experience as a storyteller.  I love creating a world on screen that has the power to pull the audience into the lives of others in unexpected ways. When I’ve accomplished that and can sense a shift in the viewer’s thinking or mood, it’s exhilarating.