What it means to film and be filmed.

Case study of an extraordinary and deeply poetic documentary with the director Kirsten Johnson which was premiered at Sundance and presented during numerous festivals including CPH:DOX or IDFA. 


A nonfiction collage that plumbs the complicated relationship between filmmaker and subject, “Cameraperson” finds cinematographer Kirsten Johnson assembling snippets from her past works in order to evoke an assortment of intricate, uneasily resolved questions. The person behind the camera for “Fahrenheit 9/11,” “Darfur Now” and “Citizenfour” (among many others), Johnson has made a decades-long career out of traveling the globe for stories that uncover hidden truths — a modus operandi reflected in her backward gaze, seeking the larger threads uniting the images and moments that continue to affect her. Without narration or a conventional storyline, it’s a uniquely insightful memoir-cum-critical-treatise that, after its Sundance premiere, should garner substantial attention from the documentary crowd.




As a visually radical memoir, Cameraperson draws on the remarkable footage that Johnson has shot and reframes it in ways that illuminate moments and situations that have personally affected her. What emerges is an elegant meditation on the relationship between truth and the camera frame, as Johnson transforms scenes that have been presented on Festival screens as one kind of truth into another kind of story—one about personal journey, craft, and direct human connection.


"I had the idea of making “Cameraperson” after working on a documentary which fell apart because its protagonist, a young Afghan girl who had initially accepted to be filmed, changed her mind after three years when she saw the almost-completed film and she feared it would put her life in danger. The extent of the ethical conflict that we face as filmmakers at this moment in history, now that the Internet exists, really dawned on me in that moment. In this new territory we’re in, we can’t control where images go. This has an impact on people being filmed and the people making images as well: we can all be traced. It used to be that when you filmed someone in a foreign country who needed protection, you could tell people that footage would never be seen in their country. Today we can’t. In many ways, “Camerperson” is about representation and misrepresentation, about political, ethical questions, as much as it is about trauma, love and tenderness."

Kirsten Johnson



Directed by: Kirsten Johnson
Cinematography: Kirsten Johnson
Edited by: Nels Bangerter, Amanda Laws (co-editor)    

102 minutes