REVIEW: Cameraperson

January 27, 2017

Director: Kirsten Johnson
Screenplay: Doris Baizley, Lisa Freedman
Starring: Kirsten Johnson
Runtime: 102 Minutes




It’s all too often we forget that positioned behind the lens of the immaculately shot documentary footage is a person with their own desires and vision.


Cameraperson is as personal a project as documentary filmmaking can get. Hardly a film unto itself, the project consists of B-roll, personal and unused footage of documentary cinematographer Kirsten Johnson over the course of her career. Much of which is unseen distractions or the delicacies of her method of work when framing an establishing shot correctly.


As an experiment of collage filmmaking as opposed to something more narrative driven it’s a deeply interesting watch as we are taken on a worldwide voyage with her into the fleeting lives of the people she interacts with and the vistas she finds along the way. It’s no surprise that the film looks amazing, but it’s the details of Johnson’s imprints on the footage that give it a sense of personality. From her surprised gasps at a lightning strike or wincing at a young boy with an axe, to her momentary conversations with women who have suffered in circumstances familiar and foreign – mostly focusing on their hands as they take on the faceless characters who could be anyone.


Described in the opening text as what she hopes will be her memoir, it’s a scattershot piece of insight behind the scenes but one that carries emotion and drive even without the structure of narrative in any traditional sense.


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