Presented By:Marilyn Ness
Cinematographer Kirsten Johnson’s work in documentary film is well known, even if she
is not a household name. Johnson has been behind the camera on more than 40 projects, including
a number of the most lauded documentaries of the last two decades. Her resume includes work with such documentary luminaries as Michael Moore, Kirby Dick, and Laura Poitras. Johnson lensed Dick’s Oscar-nominated The Invisible War, Poitras’ Emmy-nominated The Oath (MDFF 2010) and more recently the director’s Oscar-winning 2014 film, Citizenfour. She is a juggernaut in the documentary field, also acting as producer and director from time to time.
For Cameraperson, Johnson steps out from behind the camera and sifts through the footage she’s
shot over the years for her various projects, searching for a throughline in the many moments she’s observed via her viewfinder. Culling from hundreds and hundreds of hours of outtakes from a number of features she’s worked, in addition to her own personal footage, Johnson creates a remarkable memoir of her film work thus far. As the filmmaker reflects on what it means to bear witness to these moments of life, big and small, from behind the camera, it becomes clear that the work itself is just the jumping-off point to examine life’s big questions. We dwell there within the moments of joy and pain, tedium and excitement, beauty and ugliness, that comprise her life’s work. Throughout this lyrical film essay, Johnson graces us with the gift of her keen eye and her worldview as she crafts a transcendent and deeply moving meditation on the human condition. (J. Scott Braid)
Marilyn Ness is a two-time Emmy, DuPont, and Peabody Award-winning documentary producer. Most recently, she produced Katy Chevigny and Ross Kauffman's feature documentary E-TEAM that premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and was acquired by Netflix Originals. Marilyn also produced Johanna Hamilton's feature documentary 1971, which premiered at Tribeca Film Festival 2014 and broadcast on Independent Lens in 2015. Marilyn also directed and produced the documentary feature film Bad Blood: A Cautionary Tale that broadcast nationally on PBS in 2011 and was the centerpiece of a campaign to reform blood donation policies in the U.S. Prior to that, Ness spent four years as a producer for director Ric Burns, collaborating on four award-winning PBS films: Ansel Adams; The Center of the World; Andy Warhol; and Eugene O'Neill. She is also the producer and host of MDFF 2016's Cameraperson.