Documentary memoir from Documentary camera operator Kirsten Johnson showing her journey through the last 25 years of being behind the camera. Using clips from the many films that she has documented over the last quarter decade it shows us the personal growth of her during that time.
A good documentary will have me at the cinema time and time again paying my own cash to be informed and entertained. The best for me over the last few years have been The Fog of War, Man on Wire, and the unbeatable Precinct 75 (or The Seven-Five). They bring us into that zone of entertainment and information that leaves us wondering about how small our world is and how we don’t realize that we live on a planet with billions of stories that we may never know. The documentaries that I don’t like, neither entertain or inform, and raise themselves above that of the audience. I don’t know much about Kirsten Johnson and I thought that watching Cameraperson would change that. In some ways it did but in the main ways it didn’t.
There are a few of the documentary films that are shown here in Cameraperson that I want to check out, but that is more because the story of that particular documentary appeals to me. This film cuts between all the films that she has filmed over the years and then there are personal moments of her family, very candid moments that lead to true insight into the woman behind the camera. Sadly though there is no narrative to the film, so you don’t get the information about Kirsten that you think you are going to get. The whole thing feels like a vanity project and not a good one.
Through the many different cuts, that leave you blinking, and wondering what is going to be the point. The hard-hitting stories of the Town of Jasper, and the horrific after effects of the Bosnian ethnic war of the 90’s, are films that I want to see, but the question that is present through the film is next. Do you care about the woman behind the lens? The answer is I probably should care, but this film does little to nothing to make me care. That lack of caring about the prime subject of the film leaves me cold, slightly annoyed, and frustrated that I could have finished moving instead of hauling my old bones into the city to watch this. I review movies so that is what I do, would you honestly want me to release a series of reviews that show, or claim to show, my personal growth, or to say that these clips of my reviews build up a memoir of me? The answer is of course not.
This is pseudo intellectual trash posing as a must watch by including hard-hitting documentary clips from someone else’s films. I honestly don’t know why she bothered. I guess it was easy to finance this. The sad part is that there is a story there it’s just that we didn’t get to see it, a story that would have had me going back for more. It’s sad when this stuff is passed out into theatres!
Director: Kirsten Johnson
Writers: Doris Baizley (consulting writer), Lisa Freedman (consulting writer)
Star: Kirsten Johnson