Cine-File’s Kyle Cubr reviews the documentary “Cameraperson” screening at Northwestern’s Block Cinema

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Over the past twenty-five years, Kristen Johnson has plied her trade as a documentary cinematographer working on such films as FAHRENHEIT 9/11 and CITIZENFOUR. In CAMERAPERSON, Johnson utilizes her past experiences on these documentaries as well as some of their unused footage to create a visual memoir of her career. At the film’s onset, Johnson makes an imploration, asking the audience to ruminate on these images that “have marked me and leave me wondering still.” What follows is a series of candid moments, such as time spent with her mother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, testimony by survivors of Bosnia genocide, and many others. CAMERAPERSON leans more abstract and does not particularly have a definitive narrative quality to it. Instead, Johnson seeks to show the power of the camera and the moving images it’s able to capture. There is sadness, beauty, and triumph in these sequences. Like an abstract personal diary, the film leaves the juxtaposition of its arrangements up to the viewer’s own interpretation. These moments build upon each other and the emotional resonance they leave behind echoes in a powerful way. There is an urge to designate this as autobiographical due to the inclusion of some of Johnson’s personal life but this would be a disservice as the running theme overall is about the triumph of the human spirit and the impressions left from recording these bits. Johnson touches on people of all genders, religions, social classes, and ethnicities. Her cross-section of humanity explored creates a sense of unity with all walks of life. CAMERAPERSON is a visual collage, experimental in nature, and one that touches on all the varied moments that make us human. With Johnson in person for a post-screening discussion with NU professor Debra Tolchinsky.

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