2016 Sundance Docs in Focus: CAMERAPERSON

camerapersonToday’s Sundance doc profiles explore the nonfiction and hybrid feature films of the New Frontier section. First up: Kirsten Johnson’s CAMERAPERSON, the acclaimed cinematographer’s reflections on documentary image making.

Festival Section:
New Frontier

Sundance Program Description:

Kirsten Johnson, the cinematographer for TWO TOWNS OF JASPER, PRAY THE DEVIL BACK TO HELL, THE OATH, and HAPPY VALLEY among many others, is the woman behind the camera who shot some of the most memorable documentaries to have played at the Sundance Film Festival. This year, she presents an extraordinary and deeply poetic documentary of her own, which investigates what it means to film and be filmed.

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.

Some Background:
Director/Producer: Kirsten Johnson
This marks Johnson’s second feature documentary as director to screen at Sundance, following DEADLINE (2004), co-directed with Katy Chevigny. She was the DP on that film, as well as numerous other Sundance alumni, including THE OATH (2010), for which she won the US Documentary Cinematography Award; Kirby Dick’s THE INVISIBLE WAR (2012), THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED (2006), and DERRIDA (2002); Kristi Jacobson’s AMERICAN STANDOFF (2002) and A PLACE AT THE TABLE (2012); TWO TOWNS OF JASPER (2002); and ASYLUM (2003), co-directed by Gini Reticker, one of the executive producers of this newest project. Johnson’s long-percolating film has received support from the Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Program and Labs.

Producer: Marilyn Ness; Co-Producer: Danielle Varga
Ness, from Big Mouth Productions, also produced fellow 2016 Sundance doc TRAPPED, and is a Sundance alum as a producer of the award-winning E-TEAM (2014).

Varga previously worked with Ness on the Cinema Eye Honor Award-winning 1971 and E-TEAM, and served as an archival producer for TEENAGE.

Executive Producers: Abigail Disney and Gini Reticker
Disney, also an executive producer on this year’s Sundance fiction feature LOVESONG, is a longtime Sundance veteran. Her recent alumni credits as executive producer include last year’s HOT GIRLS WANTED and THE MASK YOU LIVE IN, as well as CITIZEN KOCH (2013), THE QUEEN OF VERSAILLES (2012), and THE INVISIBLE WAR.

Reticker’s extensive past Sundance credits also include HOT GIRLS WANTED and CITIZEN KOCH, as well as ASYLUM, NERAKHOON – THE BETRAYAL (2008), A DECADE UNDER THE INFLUENCE (2003), IN THE COMPANY OF WOMEN (2004), and HEART OF THE MATTER (1994).

Editor: Nels Bangerter; Co-Editor: Amanda Laws
This project marks both Bangarter and Laws’ first at Sundance. Bangarter has notably picked up awards from Tribeca, Cinema Eye Honors, and the IDA for editing LET THE FIRE BURN.

Why You Should Watch:
Johnson’s film is an intriguing excavation of memory as filtered through images that have proven indelible through her career. Her recontextualization of these moments not only exorcises traumas and celebrates connections, but opens up new storytelling perspectives.

More Info:
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For Sundance screening dates and times, click the link in the first paragraph.

To experience the festival through the eyes of this year’s filmmakers, follow my Sundance filmmaker class of 2016 Twitter list.

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1 Comment

Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

One response to “2016 Sundance Docs in Focus: CAMERAPERSON

  1. This film sounds like a gem. I hope it gets acquired by Netflix so I can watch it.

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