One of the standouts at last month’s Camden International Film Festival, Kirsten Johnson’s CAMERAPERSON is a singularly memorable cinematic experience. Comprised of outtakes and footage amassed over her 25-year career as a cinematographer for human rights documentaries, she expertly weaves intimate moments from seemingly unrelated material once left on the editing room floor. The result is a narrative-defying meditation of the depth of the human experience, liberated from any direct context.
Yet if that were all, CAMERAPERSON wouldn’t be nearly as important a film. Johnson’s extensive career has placed her in scenes of conflict around the world (to name a few, CAMERAPERSON contains scenes of postwar zones in Bosnia and Herzegovina; a nursery in Nigeria; the trial of a brutal murder of a black man in Jasper, Texas; even Johnson’s own ailing mother in the years before her death), and her role behind the camera has found her in innumerable situations seeming to demand more than merely a steady hand. Viewed as a tapestry of loosely related intimate moments, CAMERAPERSON is indeed lovely. But as a sort of meta-documentary on the questions that face artists, activists and citizens today, Kirsten Johnson’s CAMERAPERSON is nothing short of groundbreaking, raising issues like complicity, authenticity, and who possesses the rght to document someone else’s life.”
CAMERAPERSON | Dir. Kirsten Johnson (with Skype Q&A) | October 25, 7:30 p.m. | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland | $8 | space538.org