Kirsten Johnson uses unused footage from her career as a cinematographer to create an insightful memoir dismantling the myth of the objective documentary
There’s a shot midway through Kirsten Johnson’s Cameraperson that captures the conflict at the core of the film. In an understaffed hospital in Nigeria, a non-responsive, new-born baby is abandoned, presumed dead. Then, suddenly, it begins to cry. The only person left in the room is Johnson and the audience watches on, not knowing if she’ll call for help or continue filming.
A cinematic memoir pieced together from footage amassed over a 25-year career working as a cinematographer on documentaries such as Citizenfour, Fahrenheit 9/11, and Derrida, Johnson explores what it means to film the lives of other people. With the exception of text revealing their location, each scene is liberated from its narrative, creating a space for the viewer to consider the world outside the frame and the ethical responsibilities of the camera operator.
An enthralling journey of shifting perspectives of the world, Cameraperson dismantles the myth of the objective documentary, forcing the audience to interrogate the very idea of ‘looking’ and what it means to carry the burden of accumulated memories.
Released by Dogwoof
Follow Patrick Gamble on Twitter at @PatrickJGamble